Denial of Rights
As soon as the coalition formed a government in 2010 they set about undermining disability rights. Only a short while before in 2008 under the Labour government the UK had ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This declared that that persons with disabilities should be given equal life chances as non-disabled citizens. It was a active convention expecting countries to take measures to ensure those equal rights were met in education, work opportunites, independence and access to services. The coalition quickly fell foul of the convention, but rather than dealing with the issues, it dismissed the UN findings out of hand
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced in the 2012 Welfare Act. It was brought in to replace Disability Living Allowance (support with care needs) and Employment and Support Allowance (support claimants in work) . It is available from the age to 16 to 64. Those over 64 are not eligible to claim the allowance, although if already on the allowance at 65 the claimant will remain eligible.
PIP has turned out to be a disaster for those moved onto it. Such are the issues around the handling of claims that it often leads to worsening health for claimants. The whole ethos of the DWP has been to deny a claim and then reward a claim later down the line under appeal. For many claimants this can leave them destitute, without mobility and often suicidal.
When changes to DLA were first proposed back in 2010, under the coalition, serious concerns were raised about the fairness of the system. The government identified it as a cost cutting exercise, rather than a method to make the system fairer. The government announced plans to tighten eligibility for a key disability benefit, to remove entitlement from at least 360, 000 disabled people with lower support needs. . Research carried out at by Disability Alliance identified that upto 50% of DLA claimants would have to cut their work hours or even give up work under the new PIP scheme .
The Disability Rights Partnership (DRP) – the working title for the proposed merger of Disability Alliance (DA), RADAR and the National Centre for Independent Living – said the changes would have “a hugely detrimental effect” on a “significant number of disabled people and their families” in response to a government survey on the new benefit. The three organisations were deeply critical of the reforms, which they said were “underpinned” by the government’s plans to cut DLA spending on working-age people by a fifth – saving £2.17 billion by the end of 2015/16.
DRP warned that it was “very likely” that all current DLA recipients were at risk of losing some support, through lower rates, reduced eligibility or direct cuts, with the 643,000 disabled people on the low rate care component most at risk The government’s own benefits advice body has delivered stinging criticism of its major reforms to disability living allowance (DLA). Even SSAC the coalitions own advisory committee said the reforms appeared to be driven by the coalition’s wish to cut the number of working-age disabled people claiming DLA by 20 per cent. In its response to the government’s public consultation on the reforms – which closed on 18 February 2011 – the committee called for clarification on whether the aim was to cut the number of claimants, reduce the length of time people receive DLA, ensure accurate targeting of support, or “achieve something else”. The SSAC also said that the government’s much-criticised plans to remove the mobility component of DLA from most disabled people in residential care should not go ahead because they would contradict the supposed aim to support disabled people to lead “independent and active lives” .
As has been the way with all consultations and reports on Disability Rights, the coalition government ignored the findings and went ahead as originally planned . In fact the coalition government misled parliament and the public about the scale of opposition to its reform of disability living allowance (DLA) according to a report by Responsible Reform.The researchers used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the 523 responses to the consultation that had been submitted by disabled people’s organisations, disability charities and other groups.They concluded that there was “overwhelming” opposition to replacing DLA with a new personal independence payment (PIP) for working-age claimants, with only seven per cent fully in favour. The report also showed that the government had consistently used inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in the number of DLA claimants as a justification for its reforms and cuts to working-age DLA spending..
The government were accused in 2013 of manipulating DLA figures to justify the introduction of PIP. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claimed that the number of DLA claimants was increasing, but neglected to point out that working-age recipients have actually been falling. The DWP released a “statistical update”, which it said showed the number of successful claimants of DLA had risen by 15,000 between February and May 2012. But analysis of DWP figures by Disability News Service (DNS) showed that the rise in claimants was due to increases in the number of children and older people receiving DLA, while the number of claimants aged 16-64 actually fell by more than 1,600. This is important because the reforms and cuts will only affect working-age claimants, with DLA for that group to be gradually replaced by PIP .
- "UNCRPD findings" (PDF). 6 October 2016.
- "Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults".
- "Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)".
- "Disabled people reveal dark realities of Government's disability benefit assessment system, Independent". 5 February 2018.
- "PIP assessment criteria and thresholds consultation Disability Rights UK response, Disability Rights UK" (PDF). May 2012.
- "DLA reforms: Proposals lay out strategy for cutting support, DNS". 1 December 2010.
- "DLA cuts will stop disabled people working, finds survey, DNS". 29 January 2011.
- "Hundreds of thousands 'will lose essential lifeline' through DLA reforms, DNS". 25 February 2011.
- "Government's benefits advisers deliver second attack on reforms, DNS". 25 February 2011.
- "Government ignores disabled people's concerns on DLA reform, DNS". 4 April 2011.
- "A Report on the proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance, Responsible Reform" (PDF). January 2012.
- "Responsible Reform: Government 'misled parliament' over DLA, DNS". 2 January 2012.
- "Government 'manipulated' DLA figures to try to justify cuts, DNS". 1 March 2013.
Privatisation of the Service
DWP gave the assessment and delivery of PIP over to two private companies, ATOS Healthcare and Capita. Atos came under scrutiny early on after it was discovered it had made misleading statements to the DWP in order to win regional contracts of £540 million. On its tendering documents ATOS stated that it had worked closely with local disability groups, which the named groups denied. Richard Currie, an executive member of GMCDP, said the idea of his organisation working with Atos was “absolutely preposterous” .
In October 2013 it became clear that Atos was at crisis point due to not having enough doctors to carry out assessments of claimants. In November this led to Atos to pull out of the provision and led to non-medical qualified civil servants carrying out the assessments . Atos went on to say that the reason for pulling out of the “fitness for work” contract was because of assaults on its staff by disabled benefit claimants, although continuing with two lucrative contacts to assess claimants for PIP. The claims caused outrage among disabled activists, who say the company has devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled people, and “trains its staff to push people off benefits”. At a time when there was major concerns that Atos was causing severe suffering Atos painted its own staff as the victims, claiming it was recording 163 incidents a month in which members of the public were assaulting or abusing its staff, and alleging that “many” of the staff employed to carry out WCAs had received death threats. However Atos failed to provide any evidence. Atos didn't make a single report of a criminal offence for assault. Of the incidents John McArdle, co-founder of the user-led grassroots campaign group Black Triangle said:
- “It just shows that they are bare-faced liars. It confirms what we expected all along – their reason for withdrawing from the contract was commercial, it was to do with the damage being caused to their reputation.”
Atos continued to add to the misery of PIP claimants. Atos won the PIP contract by boasting in a tender document of its “extensive” network of 16 NHS trusts, two private hospital chains, and four physiotherapy providers, all of which it said would provide sites where the PIP tests would take place. But in the months after winning the contract, all but four of the NHS trusts and both of the private hospital chains dropped out. Atos stated in the £184 million disability assessment contract tender that it had a network of 740 assessment sites across London and the south of England, but after the contract was signed, it only managed to secure 96 assessment centres. This meant thousands of disabled people have faced longer delays in being assessed, and longer and more complicated journeys to reach their assessments, often by inaccessible public transport.
In March 2014 a report from the public accounts committee said:
- An absence of competition for companies such as Atos and Capita – both of which assess disabled people for eligibility for benefits – had led to the growth of "privately-owned public monopolies which have become too big to fail".
In 2014 the National Audit Office confirmed that lengthy backlogs had built up in the first few months of Atos and Capita taking on the PIP assessment contracts in 2013 
Also in 2014 representatives from three charities – DABD (UK), Citizens Advice and Mencap gave evidence to the Commons public accounts committee about the implementation of PIP. Lesley Hawes, chief executive of DABD, which is based in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham and works with socially-excluded people, said her organisation was being “bombarded” with appeals for help because of delays with PIP claims.
She said claimants were being forced to rely on food parcels and the Social Fund “to a huge extent” because of these delays.
Since last year, DABD has dealt with 185 PIP claims, but only 15 of the claimants have had decisions from the Department for Work and Pensions. Hawes said that was “typical” of claimants helped by organisations in other local boroughs. She said: “The whole timescale of waiting is ridiculous. And when we have challenged the DWP and Atos they are blaming each other for the delays.” Among the cases DABD has been dealing with is a person with a mental health condition who needed to be admitted to hospital because it took more than seven months for them to begin receiving PIP. Another was a client with diabetes and gastric problems who needs a specific diet, who submitted a PIP claim in September 2013, but heard nothing more. Despite two calls to DWP, she has still heard nothing from Atos about her assessment. She is using the Social Fund and other services “to be able to survive”, but her health has deteriorated, said Hawes. Vicky Pearlman, social policy officer for Citizens Advice, said her organisation had “seen far too many examples” of claimants who had arranged home visits from Capita but no-one had turned up, with some claimants experiencing this three times. Some claimants have arrived at Atos assessment centres to be told there was no-one there to see them, she told the committee, sometimes having travelled up to 90 minutes via public transport 
Capita responsible for assessing disability benefit eligibility failed to make its own workplace accessible for a disabled employee for more than three years, and then sacked her when she became too ill to work. As a result of the treatment Sharon Dickens experienced at the hands of Capita, she was diagnosed with stress, depression and panic attacks .
Atos was mired in further controversy when it was found in 2015 that it was lying on its claimant assessments. A Atos nurse stated that Colin Stupples-Whyley had attended the PIP assessment alone, even though his partner had sat with him throughout the interview. This led to a number of people coming forward to reveal how Atos had lied about their assessments. Former nurse Sue Hardy, who lectured on nursing for 22 years at the University of Bedfordshire, until she was forced to retire due to ill-health in 2013, said she was appalled when she read the report written by the Atos nurse who assessed her for the out-of-work disability benefit employment and support allowance (ESA). The report was littered with errors, but most worrying was the cognitive tests section, which was filled in by the assessor even though none of the tests had been carried out. Hardy, who was accompanied by a friend to the assessment, said: “This nurse lied on my assessment form. Having just had to give up my 35-year career as a nurse and senior lecturer, I found her assessment erroneous in many areas.” She appealed against the decision to place her in the work-related activity group of ESA, and won her appeal at tribunal, but also lodged a complaint with Atos, and with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). In the NMC complaint, she said the assessor had “completely fabricated, and invented the results of the cognitive assessment”. A number of other claimants came forward to complain that their assessments were full of errors and parts of it were fabricated to downplay disability needs . After receiving criticism from the coroner over the suicide of a claimaint Michael O’Sullivan, Atos were unable to say whether the doctor who had made his assessment was still employed by them. The assessment of Michael O’Sullivan was found to be wholly inadequate and had not established his mental state coming to the conclusion the claimant is “at no significant risk by working” .
Maximus (a later entrant into the assessment process), Atos and Capita remained wanting. While costs of delivering the service soared, all three companies failed to provide an adequate service. In a damning report by the National Audit Office it was found spending on assessments was set to double in just two years while the three companies were failing to meet the required standards. the National Audit Office (NAO) said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had failed to achieve value for money from the health and disability assessments it had contracted out to Atos, Maximus and Capita. In 2014-15, DWP spent about £275 million on assessment contracts, but this is expected to more than double to £579 million by 2016-17. Between April 2015 and March 2018, DWP expects the three companies to carry out about seven million assessments, at an estimated cost of £1.6 billion. It also expects the contractors will increase the number of healthcare professionals they employ by more than 80 per cent, from 2,200 in May 2015 to 4,050 in November 2016. NAO said the cost of the assessments was rising and Atos, Capita and Maximus were “still struggling to meet expected performance standards” .
In April 2016 it was found that there were still “serious failings” with the disability assessments contracted out by the government, even though it is paying outsourcing giants half a billion pounds a year to carry them out, according to a new report by MPs. The Commons public accounts committee says disabled benefit claimants still do not receive an acceptable service from contractors, more than 10 years after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) first began paying Atos to carry out assessments for the old incapacity benefit. The report on contracted out health and disability assessments says the committee has particular concerns about the way claimants with fluctuating and mental health conditions are assessed. The committee examined contracts with Maximus, Capita and Atos, who between them are responsible for assessing eligibility for personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA). The report says that between seven and 20 per cent of assessment reports do not meet the standard required by the contracts signed with DWP, with most mistakes relating to decisions made by assessors “not corresponding to the evidence” .
In 2018 the DWP extended the contracts of two discredited companies Atos and Capita to carry out disability benefit assessments. One disabled people’s organisation, Buckinghamshire Disability Service (BuDS), said on its Facebook page that the reason for the two-year contract extension was that Atos “owns the IT system that DWP rely on for PIP claims, and they can’t sack them until DWP has developed its own IT system”. BuDS said: “What a shocking way to run a public service – DWP is effectively chained to a corpse.” Atos has refused to comment on whether it owns the current PIP IT system.
The Atos and Capita contracts were extended desite the performance of the two companies carrying out disability benefit assessments on behalf of the government continuing to deteriorate, according to figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in June 2019. The DWP figures, released to Disability News Service (DNS) under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the proportion of personal independence payment (PIP) assessments carried out by outsourcing giant Capita that lead to a complaint has risen significantly in the previous three years. And the proportion of PIP assessments carried out by fellow outsourcing company Atos that lead to a complaint has increased sharply in the previous two years. The figures suggest that the likelihood of claimants experiencing sub-standard PIP assessments at the hands of the two companies has dramatically increased, despite public expressions of regret to MPs by Capita and Atos in February 2016 and December 2017 about their performance. The figures also show that Capita is continuing to attract a much higher rate of complaints than Atos, while Capita is also about twice as likely to uphold a complaint as Atos.
In July 2019 more than a third of disability assessment reports completed by Capita were found to be significantly flawed, according to secret government files. The proportion of substandard personal independence payment (PIP) reports completed by outsourcing giant Capita has risen to 37 per cent in the two years since 2016, when nearly 33 per cent of reports were found to be defective. The figures, secured from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) under the Freedom of Information Act by campaigner John Slater, are likely to add fuel to concerns about Capita’s performance in delivering the contract. And they are also likely to strengthen calls for DWP to be declared “not fit for purpose” and institutionally disablist, as demanded by the Justice for Jodey Whiting parliamentary petition.
The figures show the results of government audits of nearly 6,000 assessment reports carried out by Capita during 2018. They show that nearly four per cent of the reports (3.92 per cent) were of such poor quality that they were categorised as “unacceptable”. With another 17 per cent of assessments, DWP concluded the report was so flawed that there was “learning required” by the healthcare professional who wrote it, although the report was of an “acceptable” standard. And in a further 16 per cent of cases, the report needed to be amended because of even more serious flaws, although again the report was still said to be of an “acceptable” standard. In all, nearly 37 per cent of assessment reports audited during 2018 were found to be of an unacceptable standard, to need changes, or demonstrated that the assessor had failed to carry out their role properly. The situation with Atos was found to be even worse with proportion of disability assessment reports found to be significantly flawed soaring by more than 40 per cent in the last two years. The percentage of substandard Atos personal independence payment (PIP) reports rose from about 25 per cent in 2016-17 to more than 36 per cent in 2018-19, according to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures. In December 2017, a senior Atos executives told a committee of MPs that quality was the company’s “absolute prime target and prime focus” and that he would be “not happy at all until 100 per cent of the cases are deemed to be acceptable and pass those criteria”. Although the proportion of audited reports that were of such poor quality that they were rated “unacceptable” fell slightly the year after those comments, the figures show Atos is still failing to meet its DWP target of ensuring that a maximum of three per cent of reports are unacceptable, six years after it first began carrying out PIP assessments.
- "Labour calls for urgent investigation over 'misleading' Atos bid information, DNS". 2 October 2012.
- "'Crisis meetings' over shortage of doctors for Atos assessments". 11 October 2013.
- "IDS appears clueless over Atos medical advice withdrawal, DNS,". 22 November 2013.
- "Atos claims of widespread 'assault' were 'lies', government reveals, DNS,". 28 March 2014.
- "Personal Independence Payment: early progress, National Audit Office". 27 February 2014.
- "Life in the PIP queue: DWP, Atos and Capita shamed over new cases, DNS,". 21 March 2014.
- "Capita ignores reasonable adjustments, and then sacks disabled worker, DNS". 1 August 2014.
- "New claims of Atos assessment lies are 'tip of a massive iceberg'". 21 August 2015.
- "Regulation 28: Prevention of Future Deaths report Michael Brendan O'SULLIVAN(died 24.09.13)" (PDF). June 2014.
- "Michael O'Sullivan inquest: Atos 'has no idea' if surgeon is still assessing claimants". 25 September 2015.
- "Contracted-out health and disability assessments, National Audit Office" (PDF). 8 January 2016.
- "Taxpayers 'left to foot bill for DWP's assessment failures' as costs set to double". 8 January 2016.
- "Contracted-out health and disability assessments (NAO main page)". 8 January 2016.
- "Contracted out health and disability assessments inquiry, Public Accounts Committee". 31 March 2016.
- "DWP figures show PIP complaints against Atos and Capita continue to rise". 27 June 2019.
- "Secret PIP files show one in three assessments by Capita had significant flaws". 11 July 2019.
- "Proportion of flawed Atos PIP assessment reports has soared in last two years". 8 August 2019.
Misery for Claimants
The government always saw the move over from DLA to PIP as a massive cost cutting exercise, looking to reduce the overall costs by 28% regardless of need. To do this the government sought to create the impression of scroungers committed to a life of welfare at the tax-payers expense. Both Ester McVey and Ian Duncan Smith tried to create the impression that there had been a massive surge in the number of applicants for DLA. The figures used were from an earlier survey and proved that there had never been a surge, particularly in those impacted by PIP, where in fact there was a drop in number of claimants. DWP’s figures showed the number of working-age DLA claimants rose by just 550 across the entire country in the quarter from May to August 2012, and dropped by 5,650 over the year .
The Disability News Service revealed in 2014 that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out 60 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths in less than three years. There have been numerous reports of disabled people whose deaths have been linked to the employment and support allowance (ESA) claim process, or the refusal or removal of ESA and other benefits, including the writer Paul Reekie, who killed himself in 2010, and the deaths of Nick Barker, Jacqueline Harris, Ms DE, and Brian McArdle.
Gary Moyse has chronic pain syndrome following a car accident in December 2007 as well as diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy, anxiety and depression, but was told by a diabetes consultant to stay as active as he could, however much pain it caused him. He had been claiming disability living allowance (DLA), with higher rate mobility support and middle rate care. Investigators working for an insurance company disputing the level of his claim for six-figure damages filmed him as he walked to his local high street, as he tried to follow his consultant’s advice to stay active, and then edited the footage to remove shots of him pausing, taking breaks, taking his medication, being assisted by friends, and falling over. DVDs of this footage were later used by DWP to try to prove he was claiming DLA fraudulently. The stress of the battle with DWP – which began in 2013 – has harmed his health even further, and last year he tried to take his own life. He is now recovering from a mini-stroke and a mild heart attack. A consultant psychiatrist who saw him concluded in January 2015 that he had been “unfairly victimised”. Moyse says that two DWP investigators told him not to bother applying for PIP which is replacing working-age DLA, and warned him that they would be watching him if he walked a single step outside his front door. When he did apply for PIP, an Atos nurse who assessed him said he was entitled to the benefit, but her advice was ignored by the DWP decision-maker, the same civil servant who had dealt with the fraud allegations. The DWP decision-maker also suggested that Moyse’s “perseverance” with his claim and his insistence that he had been unfairly treated was “inconsistent with the anxious, depressed man featured in his claim”. He also stated that DWP “dropped” the case against Moyse, when it was actually thrown out by the court .
In 2016 a report found that the whole basis for the attitude to disability claimants was flawed. An article by Professor Tom Shakespeare and Professor Nicholas Watson, and fellow academic Ola Abu Alghaib, concludes that the biopsychosocial model of health (BPS) “does not represent evidence-based policy”.BPS has also “played a key role” in the tightening of eligibility criteria for ESA and other disability benefits by the subsequent coalition and Tory governments, including the new personal independence payment and universal credit, even though there is “no coherent theory or evidence” behind it, say the three authors.The BPS was developed by Dr Gordon Waddell, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Professor Sir Mansel Aylward (pictured), who was chief medical officer for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) from 1995 to 2005. Key to the BPS model, say the three authors, is the idea that “it is the negative attitudes of many ESA recipients that prevent them from working, rather than their impairment or health condition”, essentially branding many benefit claimants “scroungers”. This allows supporters of BPS, including a string of Labour and Tory government ministers, to draw a distinction “between ‘real’ incapacity benefit claimants, with long-term and incurable health conditions, and ‘fake’ benefit claimants, with short-term illness”, with the model responsible for a “barely concealed” element of “victim-blaming”. Shakespeare, Watson and Abu Alghaib say that this distinction “drives media coverage and popular attitudes to disabled people”, by creating this supposed contrast between “the deserving and the undeserving poor”. They say BPS has been used to “underpin increasingly harsh and at times punitive measures targeted at disabled people” as the state tries to cut the number of people receiving ESA .
Justin Tomlinson, the minister for disabled people, caused outrage in 2016 after it emerged that he had threatened the man, who is waiting to give evidence about the abuse in court, that his benefits would be stopped if he failed to co-operate with a personal independence payment (PIP) reassessment by Atos. David is a key witness in the trial and has been told by police not to discuss his case, or allow the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Atos access to his medical records, because the court proceedings are live and the case is sub judice. DWP finally agreed earlier this month to stop contacting David until after the end of the trial, although he later received a further letter from Atos and a threatening letter from Tomlinson via his MP. But he has now been sent a demand by another government contractor, Maximus, to attend a face-to-face work capability assessment in July 2016, warning him that his out-of-work disability benefit ESA could be affected if he fails to attend. David has severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), caused by the horrific sexual abuse he suffered as a child, and which has led to several suicide attempts .
Having publicly apologised after repeatedly contacting David, one year later the DWP continued to pester him, insisting he attend a PIP assessment. David told Disability News Service that he viewed DWP with “the same contempt” that he viewed his abuser, because of the harm it has inflicted on him. He said: “It is horrendous treatment by our government. It is humiliating and denigrating. It is hard enough to recover from sexual violence without DWP plaguing you . In January the DWP contacted David yet again insisting he must attend a PIP assessment  At the end of 2018 the DWP started harrassing David again to attend an assessment even though they knew full well he couldn't attend .
In 2016 government figures showed a steep fall in the proportion of disabled people being found eligible for out-of-work disability benefits. Disabled campaigners feared the figures showed the government was cutting spending on disability benefits “below the radar”, after being forced to abandon its attempts to reduce expenditure on PIP in March 2016. he Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics, released this week, show the proportion of disabled people applying for employment and support allowance (ESA) who were placed in the support group – for those with the highest barriers to work – plunged by 42 per cent in just three months. For assessments completed during November 2015, 57 per cent of claimants were placed in the support group; but by February 2016 that had dropped by 24 percentage points to just 33 per cent. During the same period, the proportion of applicants found “fit for work” – and therefore ineligible for ESA – rose from 35 to 49 per cent, while those placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) increased from 8 to 17 per cent. Fresh cuts to disability benefits spending will see a loss of nearly £30 a week for new ESA claimants placed in the WRAG from April 2017 ”. Disabled researcher and campaigner Catherine Hale said “If the back to work programmes for the WRAG really were about removing barriers to the labour market and increasing employment prospects, disabled people wouldn’t fear it. Instead, evidence shows, the outlook for disabled people in the WRAG is extremely poor employment prospects, unjust sanctions, a culture of stigma and bullying, and from April 2017, severe financial hardship .
It 2017 one of the outsourcing giants paid to assess disabled people for their eligibility for benefits admitted that it is standard practice, approved by the government, to ask claimants with mental health conditions why they failed to take their own lives. A leading clinical psychologist warned that such questioning “brings huge risks” and is one of the reasons behind the increase in suicides associated with the government’s work capability assessment (WCA) process. The admission from Maximus, which carries out WCAs for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), came after a disabled campaigner produced a recording of his own assessment. Alice Kirby sparked a horrified reaction on social media after revealing how the healthcare professional who assessed her eligibility for personal independence payment (PIP) had asked her: “Can you tell me why you haven’t killed yourself yet?” After she shared her experience, many other claimants came forward to say that they had been asked the same, or a similar, question by their assessors .
In May 2017 a number of claimants took to twitter to describe the "hell" and "abuse" they have suffered at the hands of the DWP:
- Hazel Fairs @Hazel_Fairs - the benefits assessment process had been “hell”, and added: “It made me suicidal. It’s like having an insulting abusive controlling ex with the power to starve and evict you.”
- @hufflewoof, - the process of assessing sick and disabled people for their eligibility for benefits was “an abusive process, built on mistrust. I have several MH issues anyway but my interactions with the DWP have exacerbated them significantly. It’s been awful.”
- Payton Quinn (@PaytonQuinn) - the benefits assessment process had been “difficult and exhausting”. “Our PIP assessor lied on the report and they have ignored our complaints, rejected our appeal.”
- Jen Byrd (@jenjenbyrd) tweeted: “Assessor had sweet, caring face on while writing inaccuracies and (purposeful?) misrepresentations. “Assessor had no understanding of my illness(es), medical terminology or even, having read his report, morals.”
- Juliette Gazzard (@juliettegazzard) said her dealings with DWP “drove me to a suicide attempt, panic state I have never recovered from. Live in constant fear of contact with DWP.”
- @victoriaclutton - dealing with DWP was “terrifying, frustrating, dehumanising and outright surreal”.
- Jonathan Hume (@IamMrJ), who has previously told Disability News Service how an assessor working for government contractor Maximus asked him what was stopping him taking his own life, was another who described how his interactions with DWP had affected his mental health. “I used to be confident. I didn’t used to panic at a knock on the door or unexpected post.”
- Social worker Brooke Winters (@brookewinters33) said she was supporting #cripthevoteuk because she can see that austerity “isn’t working”, harms disabled people, and does not save money. “As a disabled person I don’t have the support I need or adequate health care under the current government.”
- @zagbah, - “I have a MH issue and I want to #CripTheVoteUK because I don’t want to spend another five years having to prove I ‘deserve’ disability benefits. “I feel really angry with the DWP. Because of them, all the progress I was making is in ruins. I have to start over, AGAIN. My agoraphobia is worse. I can’t take the rubbish downstairs now. I can’t even step into the communal hallway. Dealing with the DWP is like being forced to play a neverending, live action version of #snakesandladders.”
- Journalist and presenter Mik Scarlet @MikScarlet - “I’m stunned at how scared I am every time I have a brown envelope in the post ever since my #PIP reassessment started. Nightmare.”
- Activist Alice Kirby was another to discuss the impact on her mental health of continual communication with DWP, tweeting: “I hate contacting them, I hate them contacting me. Constantly receiving letters, sometimes every other day, feels like harassment. And Recovery In The Bin, the user-led mental health group, tweeted: We in @RITB_ want to #cripthevoteUK b/c we are suffering individually and collectively by ongoing fear, harassment, sanctions, destitution.”
Maria Lane was left to sit in her own urine for 2 hours by a physiotherapist who was assessing her benefit claim has had her benefits heavily cut. Maria Lane described the “inhuman” experience she endured during her personal independence payment (PIP) assessment earlier this month. She told, and showed, the assessor just 10 minutes into the assessment that she had had an accident and had emptied her bladder into her incontinence pad, and that urine was leaking into her trousers. But the female assessor, who works for the government contractor Atos “looked for a second at the pad” and then continued typing for the rest of the two-hour assessment. Despite Atos launching an investigation and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) describing her claims as “very concerning”, Lane was told that her benefits will be cut. The 59-year-old has a number of long-term health conditions, including diabetes, osteoarthritis – which affects all of her joints and has spread into her spine – sciatica, a slipped disc, high blood pressure, and depression. She is waiting for a major operation on her bladder, because of severe incontinence which means she has to wear pads permanently. Lane has now seen the report written by the Atos assessor, and she said she was “gobsmacked” when she read it. She said the report states that she showed the physiotherapist her pad, but fails to point out that she also told her that she had emptied her bladder 10 minutes into the assessment. The report also claims that she was asked to spell various words – which she said did not happen – while there were other “lies”, including accounts of tests that did not take place. Lane has also provided further details of her ordeal at the assessment centre in Enfield, north London, describing how the assessor forced her to walk up a long corridor before the assessment began. When she had to keep stopping because of the discomfort she was in, the assessor – who was walking behind her – told her to keep walking. She said: “I was walking and kept stopping and she kept making me go and go. She was getting annoyed with me. “She made me walk from one end of the building to another. I can’t remember how many times I stopped. I said, ‘I can’t walk anymore.’” As a result, the assessor wrote in her report that she could walk 50 metres, a finding which has been used by DWP to justify reducing her entitlement from the enhanced to the standard rate of the PIP mobility component. She was previously receiving the enhanced rate of PIP for both the daily living and mobility components, but has been told that both will be reduced to the standard rate, which means a drop from £141 to £78 a week. She currently has to spend up to £55 a week on incontinence pads, which is paid for with some of her PIP. She had also been concerned that she would have to hand back her Motability vehicle, which she needs for her hospital appointments .
Roy Bard, a long-term recipient of disability living allowance (DLA), described how his financial support was suddenly removed because he missed an appointment for a PIP assessment he was never told about. He had been told he needed to apply for the new PIP, which is gradually replacing DLA for working-age claimants. After DWP initially appeared to have mislaid documents he sent as evidence for his claim, which he sent by recorded delivery, he eventually received a phone call from Atos asking why he had missed his face-to-face assessment. He told Atos he had never received a letter telling him to attend an assessment, and made the same reply a few days later when Atos called him again. Bard then received a letter telling him his DLA had been stopped, and that his PIP claim had been cancelled. Following an appeal – through DWP’s mandatory reconsideration process – he was told that DWP had overturned the decision to cancel his PIP claim, but would still not reinstate his DLA. He was told to wait for another assessment appointment. This decision meant he lost about £560 a month in DLA and severe disability premium, even though DWP had overturned its original finding that he had no good cause for missing the assessment. Bard, a leading member of the Mental Health Resistance Network, said his mental health had been seriously affected by the way his PIP claim had been dealt with, and he told DWP that this “amounts to maladministration and it has caused me considerable harassment, distress and alarm”.Graeme Ellis, who founded the Lancaster-based social enterprise Here2Support, has told DNS that he received eight cases similar to Bard’s in a single week, some of them relating to PIP, and some affecting ESA claimants. All eight said they had had their benefits removed for not attending a face-to-face assessment, even though they had not received an appointment letter. In the last month, Ellis has been receiving one or two such cases a week, but that “just shot through the roof”. He believes these cases demonstrate a fresh DWP attempt to cut social security spending. Previously, he said, a claimant of disability benefits would be given another assessment if their appointment letter had gone missing. Now, said Ellis, they are finding – like Bard – that their claims are being cancelled .
CeaJay Clem, from Gloucestershire, has chronic discoid lupus, which has caused a significant facial disfigurement. But despite the impact of the condition on her skin, the doctor who assessed her in January wrote in her report that her complexion was “normal” and that she “looked well”. Clem after reading about more than 200 cases in which claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) have described how their assessors from Atos and Capita produced dishonest assessment reports, which have led to them losing their benefits or having them cut. Clem’s reassessment was carried out by another contractor, Maximus, and was testing her eligibility for the out-of-work disability benefit, employment and support allowance (ESA). Because of her condition, she is unable to wear make-up and is highly sensitive to all UV light – which is used in nearly all work places – but she also has complex post-traumatic stress disorder, asthma and other health conditions, and uses a mobility scooter because she cannot walk or stand for long. She had previously been in the ESA support group, but as a result of what she says was a completely dishonest report, she lost all eligibility for ESA in February 2017, even though the assessor admitted that she had “current firm detailed plans for self-harm” .
In 2017 a House of Commons select committee carried out an inquiry into the government’s flawed disability benefit assessment regime. The inquiry receivedmore submissions from the public than any other previous inquiry with 2800 submissions made online and a further 450 written submissions. This compares with a normal submission rate of between 50 and 100 online and usually approximately 100 written. Much of the evidence submitted provided significant fresh corroboration for Disability News Service’s (DNS) year-long investigation into claims of dishonesty at the heart of the PIP assessment system. Below are just a few of the submissions :
- A carer who posted evidence on the forum told how the “pack of lies and false information” provided in the report written by the healthcare professional who assessed his wife had caused her to have a significant relapse, after her mental health had been stable for eight years. Because of the “disgraceful” assessment, his wife had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
- Another carer told how the only thing the assessor had got right in his report on her son’s PIP claim was his name. She added: “Just wish someone could help us, if my son does not take medication which I give him he has voices in his head and suicidal thoughts. “I really think they should tape [assessment interviews]. This assessor has turned our life upside down. I worry for my son’s safety.”
- One of the PIP claimants who submitted a written statement to the inquiry said that assessors were “twisting words, telling blatant lies”. The claimant, who has the genetic condition hypercholesterolaemia, which has “very life limiting symptoms”, said the assessment in June 2017 had led to them being “made to feel like a liar by the assessor and two [DWP] decision makers. “I am now being treated for severe stress and medicated with diazepam due to this experience. “That is completely unacceptable as the last thing I need is to suffer stress with such a serious heart condition.”
- One ESA claimant described how his assessor had “lied numerous times” and “painted a totally false picture”. He added: “Treated me with total disrespect, when I tried to explain my situation and ask some pertinent questions she opened the door and said, ‘on your bike mister’. “I have worked for over 30 years and have had spinal surgery this year. This inhumane process makes a mockery of paying years of tax and NI stamps. “Humiliating, demoralising and in no way professional.”
In 2017 figures showed attempted suicides among people claiming out-of-work disability benefits doubled between 2007 and 2014 .
Figures produced by Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) in 2018 showed that the percentage of working-age disabled people living in poverty in Wales rose from 27 or 28 per cent to 39 per cent in just five or six years. The increase in poverty levels appears to have started at around the time the Conservative-led coalition government came to power in 2010. JRF published new analysis showing that nearly two-fifths of disabled people (39 per cent) in Wales were now living in income poverty, compared with 31 per cent of disabled people in the UK as a whole, and 22 per cent of non-disabled people in Wales. Figures showed that the proportion of working-age disabled people in poverty in Wales had fallen to an average of 28 per cent in the three years from 2008-09 to 2010-11 and 27 per cent in the three years from 2009-10 to 2011-12. But the disability poverty rate then began to climb until it reached an average of 37 per cent in the three years 2012-13 to 2014-15, and as high as 39 per cent in the years 2013-14 to 2015-16 .
Below are just some of the experiences with the DWP that were reported to Professor Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights :
- John, who had cerebral palsy and learning difficulties - John, who lived in sheltered housing, had previously been “a positive happy person” before he was found fit for work and forced onto universal credit and the government’s Work Programme. His sister Maggie said the job he had been found through the Work Programme had proved unsuitable and he fell back out of work, causing severe problems with his universal credit. Maggie told the inquiry: “He had been told by all the authorities such as the Job Centre and Housing not to worry about his benefits and then he was very shocked to receive bills of £1,000 and £500 [from DWP and the local authority’s housing department].” She said her brother had been one of the first to be placed on the “chaotic” universal credit benefit system, and that his rights as a disabled person “had not been considered by the DWP and other authorities”. She said John had been hospitalised after trying to take his own life. He died a month later, in April this year. She said: “John was a very law abiding person and did everything that DWP, etc, told him to do but was seriously let down by this department. “His benefits had been in chaos for several years but no one cared from the various departments that John and myself contacted.” She added: “John has been totally let down by this country and died in such tragic circumstances that could have been avoided if those charged with helping the vulnerable, the disabled, had thought about him as a human being – not as a nuisance and a statistic.”
- Steve, told the inquiry how delays in receiving his first universal credit payment two years ago had left him in debt, and saw him lose £61 a week in severe disability premium in the transfer to the new system. He was forced to ask his local council for food vouchers. Steve said the benefits system had become “very aggressive” since the government’s reforms to the social security system, which he said had left him feeling “like a scrounger”. He said: “There were suddenly demands to adhere to and a timetable of activities that was not possible to achieve and the DWP would not even talk about this but just threatened to take away the benefits.” The impact on his physical and mental health – he has a number of health conditions – had repeatedly left him “in crisis or at A&E or even being temporarily held at a police station”. He told the inquiry: “The stress is unbearable when added to coping with everyday health issues which on their own are enough to endure. “I had to sign up to commitments that I cannot fulfil and it seems obvious that this system is deliberately designed to make disabled claimants, especially those with mental health issues, fail or just give up pursuing their claim.” “The constant demands and worry of dealing with benefits means that there is no energy left to keep up with the demands of my personal healthcare. “It also puts a strain and a burden on my friends and family who have to step in and help sort out the mess caused by failing healthcare, social care and welfare reform especially as this has now been going on for so long. “I live in total insecurity and on a knife edge with worsening health where anything can happen and there are constant threats, harassment and abuse by the DWP and the present government.”
- David, from Plymouth, painted a similar picture and told the inquiry that the 2010 coalition government’s social security reforms had created a “hostile environment” for disabled people. He said there had been “an orchestrated campaign since then in the mainstream media, to deliberately disenfranchise, to alienate, to misalign, and this has achieved the desired result in changing the general public’s perception of the vulnerable, as ‘benefit scroungers’”. He said: “It is now not uncommon to see people with disabilities on the streets… all of this from the seventh richest economy on the planet. It is unconscionable, it is unforgivable.” David is now having to pay more than £200 a month from his disability benefits towards his social care, while he fears losing his Motability vehicle when he is eventually assessed for PIP. He said: “Though no longer able to work, the ability to drive remains one of my few remaining abilities, and enjoyments. “My own vehicle is at risk if my transition from DLA to PIP does not go well, I could be refused my legitimate benefits entirely, and become destitute, through no action, or fault of my own. “I am under a continual and unrelenting strain. It is already a matter of medical record that I am unable to sleep, my mental health is suffering, and I have come to view my individual longterm outlook as bleak.” He added: “I live in very real fear of a ring on my doorbell, or the daily arrival of the post. I dread the compulsory transition from DLA to PIP that I have yet to undergo. I dread going outside.”
- Efrosyni told the inquiry that she had been “driven to despair” by social care cuts, which meant she did not have enough support to visit her local high street. She said: “I have been housebound for four years and I don’t know how much longer I can survive like this.” She said the rollout of universal credit was “yet another indication of the contempt that the disadvantaged, sick and disabled people are held by the government”. Efrosyni said she had tried to speak to the government’s universal credit helpline but had to give up after “being on hold for 55 minutes several times”. She said: “Perhaps the government is trying to force us all to commit suicide and therefore ease the ‘burden’ that they consider us to be. “It is obvious that sick and disabled people are not deemed worthy of consideration and compassion by this government nor to have the right to lead fulfilling lives. “This attitude is also exhibited by many in local government, some staff of whom have told me that I should just be grateful that I get anything. “As a benefit claimant I am made to feel unworthy, patronised, marginalised and undermined. “I don’t want to be pitied, I want to be enabled with the appropriate resources to lead a fulfilling life and considered a valuable part of society.”
- Barbara, who is disabled, and lives with her husband, who has Parkinson’s and dementia, described in her written evidence to the inquiry how she had previously claimed higher rate DLA for both care and mobility but was refused PIP completely after a dishonest assessment report, even though she is in the employment and support allowance support group, for those found to have limited capability for work-related activity. Rather than wait for months for a tribunal, she was advised to submit a fresh claim, but now fears another dishonest PIP assessment. She and her husband rely on foodbanks and cannot afford to pay their bills. She told the inquiry: “My husband’s Parkinson’s and the dementia has got worse because of the stress of trying to manage with what little money we have. “We used to put change into a jar for the grandchildren but had to break it open to get money for milk and bread.”
Professor Alston said: “Poverty is intertwined with human rights standards that the United Kingdom has ratified, including the right to food, housing, and an adequate standard of living and [how] it affects access to civil and political rights. “The government has made significant changes to social protection in the past decade, and I will be looking closely at the impact that has had on people living in poverty and their realization of basic rights.”
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) destroyed a damaging internal report about its failure to ensure the safety of benefit claimants in jobcentres, preventing it being released under freedom of information laws. The report into safeguarding failures in south London jobcentres was written by three disabled people recruited under its Community Partners initiative, which was set up to build bridges between jobcentres and the local community. The report was written in September 2017, and Disability News Service (DNS) learned about its existence the following spring, about eight months later. To avoid identifying its source, DNS submitted a freedom of information request asking DWP to release all reports written by Community Partners while working for DWP in London in 2017 and 2018. DWP continually delayed answering the request, breaching freedom of information laws in the process. In a letter to the information commissioner, DWP has admitted that the safeguarding report did exist but that it was destroyed after 12 months because its “Information Management policy only requires us to keep a corporate document of an internal briefing for a period of 12 months”. That 12 months period ended at least four months after DNS first asked for this and other Community Partner reports to be released. This suggests that DWP destroyed the safeguarding report to prevent it being released to DNS .
WOWCampaign launched its Assessing the Assessors campaign early in 2019 to highlight the continued flaws within the assessment regimes for personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA). But WOW also wanted to give disabled people a chance to express their “pent up anger and frustration” with the ordeals they were being forced to undergo at the hands of government contractors Atos, Capita and Maximus. It designed a questionnaire that disabled people could fill in to describe their assessment experiences. WOW has already received about 50 questionnaires and is hoping for even more responses. They will eventually be turned into a report, which will be sent to MPs. WOW questionnaire responses ‘show assessors are still lying’ 
In 2019 the government was forced to admit that about 1,600 working-age disabled people are dying every year after having their claim for disability benefits rejected. The Department for Work and Pensions figures (DWP) reveal that 7,990 disabled people who lodged a claim for person independence payment (PIP) in the five years after the new benefit was launched in April 2013 had died within six months of registering their claim, while also having that claim rejected. These figures mean that more than 130 working-age disabled people a month have been found ineligible for PIP following an initial assessment by government contractors Atos and Capita but were still so unwell that they died soon afterwards .
There is a rule that people who are terminally ill, with only six months to live, should automtically receive full benefits. This is to ensure they can cover any additonal costs and spend their final days with their family in some comfort. However the six month rule is an abritary date and creates serious issues for claimants. It often means that terminally ill people are fighting to receive their payments by proving that they will live less than six months. Thanks to advances in treatment many people now live for longer with a terminal illness, while for others their condition makes it all but impossible for a doctor to make a prediction of how long they will live – up to half of such estimates turn out to be wrong. The situation as it stands can mean dying people have to prove they are looking for work.
- “From the moment I started the application process, I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously. Just because I don’t look ill – I still wear make-up and dress well every day – that doesn’t mean that I’m less entitled.”Lorraine Cox, living with motor neurone disease
The impacts of this rule on dying people range from long waits for payments, with many people getting into debt while waiting, to stories of dying people being found ‘fit for work’ by the DWP and denied benefits. Between 2013-2018 over 17,000 people (10 per day) have died waiting for PIP .
Marie Curie is campaigning for the 6 month rule to be changed. They have handed a petition into 10 Downing street calling on the government to scrap the rule so that terminally ill patients can receive the necessary care.
- “I had numerous letters from [the Department for Work and Pensions] over months with the same questions being asked over and over again. Sometimes, forms were sent by mistake – I was having to deal with all of this while still dealing with the news that I was terminally ill.”Mark Hughes, living with terminal bone cancer
An All-Party Parliamentary Group for Terminal Illness heard from medical experts, charities and organisations that work with people living with a terminal illness, and the friends and families of people who have been affected by the ‘six-month rule.’ The APPG’s report, launched on 3 July, makes it clear that this rule is not fit for purpose.
Between October 2012 and 30 September 2013, 104,200 disabled people had benefits ‘sanctioned’ following the introduction of the coalition's 2012 Welfare act . During the year, nearly 42,000 disabled people received just one low-level sanction, while nearly 40,000 received one mid-level sanction, and more than 8,000 received one high-level sanction, which saw them lose their JSA for 13 weeks..
- "Duncan Smith follows McVey in using misleading figures to whip up hostility, DNS". 12 April 2013.
- "Author's suicide 'due to slash in benefits', The Scotsman". 23 July 2010.
- "Dad of two killed himself because he was losing his disability benefits, The Mirror". 20 April 2013.
- "Bristol woman 'killed herself after benefits were stopped'". 25 November 2013.
- "Woman killed herself after being stripped of disability benefit, says watchdog". 28 March 2014.
- "Atos benefits bullies killed my sick dad, says devastated Kieran, 13, Daily Record,". 10 December 2012.
- "DWP 'ruined me' with 'victimisation', says disabled benefit claimant". 4 March 2016.
- "Blaming the victim, all over again: Waddell and Aylward's biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability, Tom Shakespeare, Nicholas Watson, Ola Abu Alghaib". 25 May 2016.
- "DWP piles WCA demand onto 'humiliated' abuse survivor". 30 June 2016.
- "DWP breaks promise to stop harassing child abuse victim in run-up to trial". 17 August 2017.
- "DWP breaks promise again to stop harassing abuse survivor over benefit claim". 1 February 2018.
- "Traumatised child rape survivor harassed again by DWP as he waits to give evidence". 3 January 2019.
- "ESA: outcomes of Work Capability Assessments including mandatory reconsiderations and appeals, Gov.uk". 8 September 2016.
- "ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group, Catherine Hale" (PDF). 2014.
- "ESA figures show 'very disturbing' drop in number placed in support group". 15 September 2016.
- "Maximus 'admits' using brutal and dangerous suicide questions". 9 March 2017.
- "Benefit claimants take to social media to describe DWP 'hell' and 'abuse'". 4 May 2017.
- "Woman left in her own urine has benefits slashed after 'dishonest' assessment report". 22 June 2017.
- "DWP 'is using lost benefit assessment letters to cut spending'". 10 August 2017.
- "'My picture is proof that healthcare professionals lie in benefit assessments'". 17 August 2017.
- "Response to benefit assessment inquiry breaks Commons records". 16 November 2017.
- "Fury over MPs' refusal to quiz minister on 'staggering' WCA suicide figures". 21 December 2017.
- "Sharp rise in disability poverty in Wales is 'very concerning'". 15 March 2018.
- "Poverty in Wales 2018". 7 March 2018.
- "'Chaotic' universal credit led to disabled man's death, sister tells UN poverty expert". 8 November 2018.
- "DWP admits destroying report on safety failings in jobcentres". 4 April 2019.
- "WOW questionnaire responses 'show assessors are still lying'". 4 July 2019.
- "'Shocking' PIP death figures 'show assessment process is unfit for purpose'". 7 February 2019.
- "Ten people every day are dying while waiting for their benefit claim to be answered". 23 January 2019.
- "Scrap six months". 7 August 2019.
- "Six Months To Live?Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Terminal Illness inquiry into the legal definition of terminal illness" (PDF). 3 July 2019.
- "Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance sanctions: decisions made to September 2013, Gov.uk,". 19 February 2014.
- "More than 100,000 disabled people had benefits 'sanctioned'". 21 February 2014.
In 2012 The government changed the eligibility for support for people with the highest mobility needs, without any warning or consultation – and then lying about what it had done. The publication of the final assessment criteria that will decide eligibility for the new personal independence payment (PIP), the replacement for working-age disability living allowance (DLA) showed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) intended to tighten eligibility for the top – “enhanced” – rate of the mobility component of PIP. The changes will – by 2015 – see 20,000 fewer people eligible for the enhanced rate than under the previous version of the PIP regulations, with this gap rising to 51,000 by 2018. Previous drafts had stated that a claimant who could not walk at least 50 metres would be entitled to the enhanced rate, making them eligible to lease a Motability vehicle. But this was slashed to just 20 metres. There was no mention of the alteration in the Commons statement by Esther McVey, the minister for disabled people, or in any of the government’s consultations on DLA reform .
The mobility aspect of DLA is used by many people to fund their vehicle through the Motability scheme. People who need significant alterations to their vehicle in order to make driving possible, or to carry wheelchairs and mobility scooters, were forced to find the substantial funds needed elsewhere. In many cases, this took disabled people off the road and forced them to quit their jobs.
Many thousands of people who have relied on DLA to get around their community for years now face a situation where the goalposts have been moved considerably. Under the ‘moving around’ criteria of PIP, the enhanced rate of the benefit will only be available to people who can move less than 20 metres without assistance, but the complex nature of disability means it is very much up for debate as to whether that qualifying criteria is the right one.
There is an inherent irony in the mobility part of PIP, because the 20-metre rule affects those who move with the help of prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, walking sticks and crutches – the very equipment that people could struggle to buy when their application for the enhanced rate is rejected!
Anyone who is judged to have the ability to move more than 50 metres will be completely ineligible for the mobility benefit, unless they also have problems with ‘planning and following journeys’. There is no doubt that DLA was abused by a very small minority of people in the past, but why should people in genuine need be penalised so severely? The thresholds for claims under the DLA system were much higher than the new levels .
In 2015 it was revealed that more than 100 disabled people every week were losing their Motability vehicles after being assessed for the government’s new disability benefit the charity has confirmed. The figures confirmed fears that the replacement of working-age disability living allowance with the new personal independence payment (PIP) would see at least 100,000 disabled people lose their Motability car .
In 2018 Lord Sterling, who co-founded Motability in 1977, has told Esther McVey in a letter that he found the “litany of inaccuracies” in the comments made by her and fellow MPs in a debate earlier this month to be “deeply troubling”. Lord Sterling’s letter also revealed that of 180,000 Motability customers who were previously claiming disability living allowance (DLA) and had by 2017 been reassessed for the new personal independence payment (PIP), about 75,000 have lost eligibility to remain on the scheme and have had to return their cars, because of decisions by McVey’s department. He also told McVeyin a separate letter aimed at correcting the “many false statements” made in the debate was sent to her by Motability Operations, that she herself had made four serious errors :
- McVey had called for the charity’s trustees to be “held to account” after a constituent who had been a lifetime recipient of DLA had been threatened with having her Motability vehicle removed on Boxing Day. This was a result of a PIP reassessment, carried out by McVey’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which had found the constituent was no longer eligible for the higher rate of mobility support, and therefore no longer eligible to lease a car through the Motability scheme. Lord Sterling pointed out in his letter that PIP assessments were the responsibility of McVey’s department and that it was DWP’s decision to remove her eligibility
- He then highlighted McVey’s claim in the debate that it had been her intervention as minister for disabled people in 2013 that led to Motability agreeing to pass £175 million to former DLA claimants who lost their Motability vehicles in the reassessment programme. Lord Sterling said that minutes of the charity’s meetings showed that its own trustees had made this decision themselves the previous year because they had “felt a moral obligation to help people at risk of losing cars due to government policy changes”. He said they had already decided by December 2012, months before McVey’s intervention, “to provide a package of significant financial support and other assistance”. And he said that McVey had even suggested in 2013 that this support should only be focused on the initial stage of reassessments, up to 2015-16, whereas Motability’s trustees wanted to provide financial support “over the full period of the DWP’s reassessments”. The Tory peer told her that the charity had had to cope with the loss of about 75,000 customers through PIP reassessment, many of whom were “confused, distressed and even suicidal, as they worry about losing their mobility”.
- Lord Sterling also said that McVey was wrong when she said that DWP would use money regained from Motability to help constituents whose cars had been removed before their PIP appeals had been heard. She had told MPs: “When we have got the money back from Motability that we believe we should to support disabled people, that is one of the first things it should be used for.” Lord Sterling said this was wrong because there was “no basis on which the government can demand any money to be handed over”.
- He also said that McVey had been wrong when she claimed that the charity was piloting a scheme – “after direction from the department” – to help disabled children under the age of three, when the scheme was actually being piloted by MO and there had been “no direction” from DWP.
A DWP spokeswoman refused to say if McVey would be apologising for the “inaccuracies” in her statements to MPs .
- "DWP lies to cover its tracks on mobility cuts, DNS". 20 December 2012.
- "DLA changes could leave people without vital mobility aids and unable to work, Mobility Superstore sponsered article in DNS". 25 June 2013.
- "Thousands of disability claimants lose cars in cuts". 13 March 2015.
- "Comments on the urgent question raised by John Mann regarding the mobility scheme" (PDF). 15 February 2018.
- "Tory peer attacks McVey over 'litany of inaccuracies' on Motability". 22 February 2018.
The Bedroon Tax
The coalition’s bedroom tax involved cutting housing benefit for those people in social housing with spare bedrooms. According to a leading housing association, disabled people are paying a disproportionate share of the estimated £550 million-a-year that the government hopes to save.
The study by Habinteg uncovered the disturbing truth – two-thirds of their tenants who have been hit by the bedroom tax are disabled people. And despite the prime minister’s assurances that there would be in-built protections, only a third of Habinteg’s disabled clients have been exempted by their local authorities.
Perhaps more disturbingly, however, is the fact that more than half the housing association’s properties that have been adapted for wheelchair use were not granted exemptions. The study also uncovered evidence of a postcode lottery – as some local authorities have been quicker at granting exemptions from the government’s bedroom tax than others.
This came at a time when thousands of disabled people in the UK were having their incomes drastically reduced by PIP. A great many wheelchair-users are opting to pay the difference in housing benefit out of their own shrinking incomes rather than move to a smaller home due to many areas of the country suffering from a chronic shortage of accessible properties . The disabled Labour MP Dame Anne Begg, who chairs the Commons work and pensions select committee, described the bedroom tax as “a pernicious and vindictive measure that blames people and is causing a huge amount of distress”. She described the case of a 37-year-old merchant seaman who was allocated a two-bedroom ground-floor flat after becoming disabled in a car accident, but who had since been hit by the bedroom tax.
Disabled people still disproportionally affected by the ‘bedroom tax’"Disabled people still disproportionally affected by the 'bedroom tax'". 11 September 2019.
- "Bedroom tax hitting disabled people hardest, says Coventry council's housing chief". 31 October 2013.
- "Disabled people are worst affected by bedroom tax and welfare reforms". 11 December 2013.
- "'Pernicious and vindictive' bedroom tax must be scrapped, say MPs". 15 November 2013.
This section covers just a few of the real life cases of the suffering created by the benefit regime.
Holt has always been unable to work because of a “severe” mental health condition, but was pushed onto a government work programme, with no support from specialist services, and also had to start paying the “bedroom tax”, MPs were told this week.
She began falling into poverty, became increasingly agitated, and eventually was sectioned. A few days later, at the age of 47, she had a heart attack, and fell into a coma .
She hadn’t worked for 27 years. But she was admitted to the unit after being pushed into the Government’s Work Programme – terrified that her benefits would be cut. Sheila held on for 15 months, with her father Ken and sister Linda at her bedside. She was 48 when the brain injury she sustained during her heart attack took her life .
Kieran McArdle wrote a harrowing letter describing how Atos benefits bullies killed his sick dad. Brian, 57, collapsed and died the day after his disability benefits were stopped. He had been assessed by Atos and deemed “fit for work”. The youngster said a previous stroke had caused a blood clot on Brian’s brain. He was left paralysed down his left side, unable to speak properly, blind in one eye and barely able to eat or dress. But he was still summoned to an Atos “work capability assessment” – part of the Con-Dem Government’s drive to cut billions from the welfare bill. Kieran said he had another stroke days before his appointment because of stress, but was still determined to attend.
A month later, former security guard Brian got a letter telling him he would lose his disability benefits on September 26. Kieran said his dad’s health went rapidly downhill. He believes constant worry about how he would survive without the cash he needed robbed Brian of the will to live.
The day after his benefits were stopped, Brian collapsed and died in the street near his home in Larkhall, Lanarkshire. He had suffered a heart attack .
Jacqueline who suffered severe pain due to slipped discs in her back and neck has taken her own life after having her benefits stopped. Despite being in agony which strong pain relief could not ease, the 53-year-old was deemed to be fit for work following a government health assessment and told to find a job. Her sister Nurse Christine Norman said Jacqueline's fitness-to-work assessment at a government-run centre lasted only a few minutes. “It is claimed that during the test she was only asked one question – ‘Did you come here by bus?’, to which she answered ‘yes’. The widow later received a letter by post telling her to find employment.
Ms Harris contested the ruling but was found dead at her home in Speedwell Road, Kingswood, on November 2 having taken an overdose .
George Osborne sobbed in a public show of grief at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral – meanwhile there were private tears for a victim of his government’s welfare cuts. They came after a dad of two killed himself because he was losing his disability benefits. Former sheep farmer Nick Barker, 51, was told he was fit for work, even though a brain haemorrage had left him struggling to walk. He shot himself after the shock verdict by Atos, the private drafted in by the Department of Work and Pensions to cut claimants.
Nick’s ex-wife Linda, the mother of his children, said yesterday: “It doesn’t seem right to see George Osborne crying over Margaret Thatcher when tragedies are happening because of the way his government is reforming the benefits system.” Linda, 52, who was still close friends with Nick, added: “He was a lovely man. I can’t help but feel anger. It was clearly distressing him. He wanted a way out.”
Nick had been told he did not score enough points to continue receiving benefits, but Linda, a chef who was wed to him for 12 years, said: “He clearly couldn’t work. He should have been top of the list for benefits. The points system doesn’t work.” 
The discovery that a coroner had directly attributed Michael O’Sullivan's suicide to his being found “fit for work” was a significant moment in the work capability assessment (WCA) scandal. It appeared to be the first time that a coroner had blamed the WCA process – designed and overseen by Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions – for directly causing a death.
“The anxiety and depression were long-term problems,” said Mary Hassell, the north London coroner, in her verdict on the death of Michael O’Sullivan. “But the intense anxiety that triggered his suicide was caused by his recent assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions as being fit for work, and his view of the likely consequences of that.” Hassell felt so strongly that something had gone badly wrong that she completed a Prevention of Future Deaths report, because she believed there was “a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken” .
Paul Donnachie’s disability benefit was ended in June 2015 after he missed four work capability assessments by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The DWP then informed Glasgow City Council that Mr Donnachie was capable of working, and that his housing and council tax benefits should also be stopped.
The welfare cuts were backdated, so by the time the 50-year-old was informed, he was already in arrears with rent and council tax.
His body was found in his Glasgow flat in January by bailiffs arriving to evict him, but he is thought to have killed himself two months earlier. He had severe mental health problems.
“The Government murdered him," said Mr Donnachie’s sister Eleanor, who is calling for an inquiry into his death. “They are driving ordinary people to suicide.”
Mr Donnachie’s application for a Scottish Welfare Crisis Grant in September to pay for his gas, electricity and food failed, and he was told to go to a food bank instead.
The Atos assessor completed David’s assessment by concluding, in June 2013: “He reports self harm in the past. He reports he attempted an overdose six weeks ago but he would not say what he took.
“He reports he has had no thoughts of suicide since. The evidence overall suggests that he is not at substantial risk.”
Despite David appealing against the decision that he was fit for work, and telling the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in a letter that he had “serious mental health problems that prevent me from doing everyday tasks which means I cannot work at this moment in time”, the Atos advice was rubber-stamped by DWP decision-makers.
The decision that he was not eligible for employment and support allowance (ESA) was confirmed in a letter to David on 17 July 2013. A month later, he took his own life. When questioned afterwards by the Procurator Fiscal’s office – which investigates sudden deaths in Scotland – the assessor claimed he couldn’t remember if he had made any phone calls to check on David's mental health, according to David’s father .
Susan took her own life after being told she had lost a benefits appeal had written a letter to civil servants describing the unfairness of the face-to-face assessment that had led to her losing her support. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) took just six days to decide her initial appeal, not long enough for Susan Roberts to submit any evidence that could have backed up her claim for personal independence payment (PIP). A DWP civil servant even told her – in a letter dismissing this initial appeal, known as a mandatory reconsideration – that there was no evidence that she could have submitted that would have changed her mind. Two months later, she received another letter, this time telling her that a tribunal had also rejected her appeal. The body of Susan Roberts was discovered the following day by a care worker at her warden-assisted flat near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, surrounded by letters telling her that she would not be entitled to PIP. She had also placed a note by her side that informed healthcare professionals that she did not want them to attempt to resuscitate her .
Jodey Whiting, 42, from Stockton, had some payments halted after she missed a capability assessment because she was in hospital with pneumonia. She was then sent a letter by the DWP to say they were stopping her benefits as they deemed her ‘fit for work’. Jodey, a mother of nine, suffered multiple physical and mental health issues including curvature of the spine and a brain cyst, and took 23 tablets every day.Jodey said to her mother "Mam, what am I going to do now? I can’t walk out of the door never mind go to work.”
A few weeks after the letter, in 2017, Jodey's mother and one of Jodey’s daughters found the mother-of-nine’s body at her flat, surrounded by farewell notes to her family.
An independent inquiry has ordered the “blunt and insensitive” DWP apologise and pay the family £10,000 over its handling of her case. The report found there were “multiple failings” by officials and the department repeatedly broke its own rules prior to the 42-year-old’s death two years ago.
The DWP later admitted mistakes were made and paid the family compensation.
The DWP said "We fully accepted the Independent Case Examiner's findings earlier this year and have since reviewed and strengthened our procedures to ensure all vulnerable claimants are safeguarded." However people have died since due to the actions of the DWP
81-year-old Joy Worrall committed suicide after her pension payments and winter fuel allowance were stopped for 15 months.
Work and Pensions minister Guy Opperman told MPs: "The Government apologises unreservedly for the clerical error. It was a clerical error that led to Mrs Worrall's pension payment being stopped." Mr Opperman said his thoughts were with the family and friends of Mrs Worrall. He added: "We have urgently reviewed our processes and acted so that benefits are longer linked on our systems, to try to ensure that this does not happen again. But there is an internal process review and I undertake to write to the honourable gentleman with what we do know in the short term, and more detail when the urgent processes review has taken place." The same as they said when Jodey Whiting died!
Mrs Worall plunged off a quarry one mile from her home in the Welsh village of Rhes-y-Cae, Flintshire, in November 2018. She had spent £5000 in savings and had just £5 left in her bank account.
This page lists just a fraction of the number of people who have suffered and died under the DWP. The stories are horrendous and show how the DWP has willingly destroyed the life of so many people in the pursuit of savings and cruelty. You can see Calum's list in full here
|Terry McGarvey||48||Dangerously ill from polycytheamia, Terry asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn't well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not. He died the following day.|
|Elaine Lowe||53||Suffering from COPD and fearful of losing her benefits. In desperation, Elaine chose to commit suicide|
|Mark Wood||44||Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died|
|Paul Reekie||48||Leith based Poet and Author, Paul suffered from severe depression and committed suicide after the DWP stopped his benefits. ATOS declared him "fit-for-work"|
|Leanne Chambers||30||Leanne suffered depression for many years which took a turn for the worst when she was called in for a WCA. Leanne committed suicide soon after.|
|Karen Sherlock||44||Karen suffered from multiple health issues but was found fit for work by Atos and denied her lifeline benefits. She fought a long battle to get placed into the support group of ESA and died the following month of a heart attack.|
|Carl Payne||42||Fearing the loss of his lifeline benefits due to welfare reform, this Father of two chose to take his own life.|
|Tim Salter||53||Blind and suffering from Agoraphobia. Tim was found fit for work by Atos and committed suicide soon atter.|
|Edward Jacques||47||suffering from HIV and Hepatitis C. Edward had a history of severe depression and self-harm. He took a fatal overdose after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.|
|Linda Wootton||49||A double heart and lung transplant patient who died just nine days after the government found her fit for work, their refusal letter arriving as she lay desperately ill in her hospital bed.|
|Steven Cawthra||55||His benefits stopped by the DWP and with rising debts, Steven saw suicide as the only way out of a desperate situation|
|Elenore Tatton||39||Died just weeks after the government found her fit for work via an Atos decision.|
|John Walker||57||John found himself saddled with debt because of the bedroom tax, and took his own life as a result.|
|Brian McArdle||57||Found fit for work by Atos, Brian suffered a fatal heart attack the day after his disability benefits were stopped.|
|Stephen Hill||53||Died of a heart attack one month after being found fit for work, even though he was waiting for major heart surgery.|
|Jacqueline Harris||53||A former Nurse who could hardly walk was found fit for work by Atos and her benefits withdrawn. in desperation, she took her own life.|
|David Barr||28||Suffering from severe mental difficulties. David threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal.|
|David Groves||56||Died of a massive heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. His widow went on to claim that it was the stress and worry that eventually killed him.|
|Nicholas Peter Barker||51||Nicholas shot himself after being told his benefits were being stopped. He was unable to work after a brain haemorrhage left him paralysed down one side.|
|Mark and Helen Mullins||48 and 59||This couple were forced to live on £57.50 a week and make 12 mile trips each week to get free vegetables to make soup. Mark and Helen both committed suicide.|
|Richard Sanderson||44||Unable to find a job and with his housing benefit cut forcing him to move, but with nowhere to go. Richard chose to commit suicide.|
|Martin Rust||36||A schizophrenic man who killed himself just two months after the government found him fit to work via an Atos medical.|
|Craig Monk||43||A vulnerable gentleman and a partial amputee who slipped so far into poverty and destitution that he hanged himself.|
|Colin Traynor||29||Colin, a sufferer of epilepsy was stripped of his benefits following an Atos medical. He appealed against it. Five weeks after his death his family found he had won his appeal.|
|Elaine Christian||57||Worried about her work capability assessment, Elaine was subsequently found at Holderness drain, drowned and with ten self inflicted wrist wounds.|
|Christelle and Kayjah Pardoe||32 years and 5 month old child.||Pregnant and her benefits stopped, Christelle, clutching her baby son jumped from a third floor balcony.|
|Mark Scott||46||With his DLA and housing benefit stopped after an Atos medical, and sinking into deep depression, Mark died six weeks later.|
|Cecilia Burns||51||Found fit for work by the government whilst undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Cecilia died just a few weeks after she won her appeal against the Atos decision.|
|Chris Cann||57||Chris was found dead in his home just months after being told that he had to undergo a medical assessment to prove he could not work.|
|Peter Hodgson||49||Called in to Job Centre Plus to see if he was suitable for volunteer work. Peter had suffered a stroke, a brain haemorrhage and had a surgically fused leg. His appointment letter arrived a few days after he took his own life.|
|Paul Willcoxsin||33||Paul suffered with mental health problems and was becoming increasingly worried about government cuts. He committed suicide by hanging himself.|
|Stephanie Bottrill||53||After paying £80 a month for bedroom tax, Stephanie could not afford heating in the winter and lived on tinned custard. In desperation, she chose to walk out into the road in front of a lorry.|
|Larry Newman||suffering from a degenerative lung condition, his weight dropping from 10 to 7 stone. Atos duly awarded him zero points, he died just three months after submitting his appeal.|
|Paul Turner||52||After suffering a heart attack, Paul was ordered to find a job in February. In April he died from ischaemic heart disease.|
|Christopher Charles Harkness||39||After finding out that the funding for his care home was being withdrawn, this man who suffered with mental health issues, took his own life.|
|Sandra Louise Moon||57||Suffering from a degenerative back condition, depression and increasingly worried about losing her incapacity benefit. Sandra committed suicide by taking an overdose.|
|Lee Robinson||39||Lee took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax were taken away from him.|
|David Coupe||57||A Cancer sufferer found fit for work by Atos in 2012. David lost his sight, then his hearing, then his mobility, and then his life.|
|Michael McNicholas||34||Severely depressed and a recovering alcoholic. Michael committed suicide after being called in for a Work Capability Assessment by Atos.|
|Victor Cuff||59||Suffering from severe depression, Victor hanged himself after the DWP stopped his benefits.|
|Charles Barden||74||Charles committed suicide by hanging due to fears that the Bedroom Tax would leave him destitute and unable to cope.|
|Ian Caress||43||Suffered multiple health issues and deteriorating eyesight. Ian was found fit for work by Atos, he died ten months later having lost so much weight that his family said that he resembled a concentration camp victim.|
|Iain Hodge||30||Suffering from the life threatening illness, Hughes Syndrome, Iain was found fit for work by Atos and had benefits stopped. Iain took his own life shortly after.|
|Wayne Grew||37||Severely depressed due to government cuts and the fear of losing his job, Wayne committed suicide by hanging.|
|Kevin Bennett||40||Kevin, a sufferer of schizophrenia and mental illness became so depressed after his JSA was stopped that he became a virtual recluse. Kevin was found dead in his flat several months later.|
|David Elwyn Hughs Harries||48||A disabled man who could no longer cope after his parents died, could find no help from the government via benefits. David took an overdose as a way out of his solitude.|
|Denis Jones||58||A disabled man crushed by the pressures of government cuts, in particular the Bedroom Tax, and unable to survive by himself. Denis was found dead in his flat.|
|Shaun Pilkington||58||Unable to cope any more, Shaun shot himself dead after receiving a letter from the DWP informing him that his ESA was being stopped following an Atos medical.|
|Paul||51||Died in a freezing cold flat after his ESA was stopped. Paul appealed the decision and won on the day that he lost his battle to live.|
|Chris MaGuire||61||Deeply depressed and incapable of work, Chris was summonsed by Atos for a Work Capability Assessment and deemed fit for work. On appeal, a judge overturned the Atos decision and ordered them to leave him alone for at least a year, which they did not do. In desperation, Chris took his own life, unable to cope anymore.|
|Peter Duut||A Dutch national with terminal cancer living in the UK for many years found that he was not entitled to benefits unless he was active in the labour market. Peter died leaving his wife destitute, and unable to pay for his funeral.|
|George Scollen||Took his own life after the government closed the Remploy factory he had worked in for 40 years.|
|Julian Little||47||Wheelchair bound and suffering from kidney failure, Julian faced the harsh restrictions of the Bedroom Tax and the loss of his essential dialysis room. He died shortly after being ordered to downgrade.|
|Miss DE||50s||Suffering from mental illness, this lady committed suicide less than a month after an Atos assessor gave her zero points and declared her fit for work.|
|Robert Barlow||47||Suffering from a brain tumour, a heart defect and awaiting a transplant, Robert was deemed fit for work by Atos and his benefits were withdrawn. He died penniless less than two years later.|
|Carl Joseph Foster-Brown||58||As a direct consequence of the wholly unjustifiable actions of the Job centre and DWP, this man took his own life.|
|Martin Hadfield||20||Disillusioned with the lack of jobs available in this country but too proud to claim benefits. Utterly demoralised, Martin took his own life by hanging himself.|
|Annette Francis||30||A mum-of-one suffering from severe mental illness, Anne was found dead after her disability benefits were ceased.|
|Ian Jordan||60||His benefits slashed after Atos and the DWP declared Ian, a sufferer of Barratt's Oesophagus, fit for work, caused him to run up massive debts in order to survive. Ian was found dead in his flat after taking an overdose.|
|Janet McCall||53||Terminally ill with pulmonary fibrosis and declared 'Fit for Work' by Atos and the DWP, this lady died 5 months after her benefits were stopped.|
|Stuart Holley||23||A man driven to suicide by the DWP's incessant pressure and threat of sanctions for not being able to find a job.|
|Graham Shawcross||63||A sufferer of the debilitating disease, Addison's. Died of a heart attack due to the stress of an Atos 'Fit for Work' decision.|
|David Clapson||59||A diabetic ex-soldier deprived of the means to survive by the DWP and the governments harsh welfare reforms, David died all but penniless, starving and alone, his electricity run out.|
|Chris Smith||59||Declared 'Fit for Work' by Atos as he lay dying of Cancer in his hospital bed.|
|Nathan Hartwell||36||Died of heart failure after an 18-month battle with the Department for Works and Pensions.|
|Michael Connolly||60||A Father of One, increasingly worried about finances after his benefits were cut. Committed suicide by taking 13 times the fatal dose of prescription medicine on the 30th October - His Birthday.|
|Jan Mandeville||52||A lady suffering from Fibromyalgia, driven to the point of mental and physical breakdown by this governments welfare reforms. Jan was found dead in her home after battling the DWP for ESA and DLA.|
|Trevor Drakard||50||A shy and reserved, severe epileptic who suffered regular and terrifying fits almost his entire life, hounded to suicide by the DWP who threatened to stop his life-line benefits.|
|Peter Kelleher||44||Found in his flat with a ligature around his neck and in a state of decomposition after the pressure of mounting debt and no benefit at all became too much to bear.|
|Mark Cotton||54||A Double amputee that relied upon paid care to get around was reassessed by the DWP, only to receive a telephone call 4 days later to inform him that his care allowance was to be slashed from 9 hours per week, to 3. Mark was found dead in his home 48 hours later having committed suicide.|
|Malcolm Burge||66||A retired gardener who killed himself after being hounded for £800 after changes to his benefits left him unable to cope.|
|Julia Kelly||39||Suffering with chronic back pain and hounded constantly by the DWP, Julia committed suicide after receiving a letter demanding that she pay back over £4000|
|Benjamin Del McDonald||34||A doting Father of three children suffering from depression due to removal of his lifeline benefits, Benjamin committed suicide by hanging.|
|Mark William Jacka||26||Stressed to the point of suicide, Mark was found hanged at his home the day after a visit to his local Job Centre to apply for JSA.|
|David O'Mar||58||Suffering from Pneumonia in a hospital bed. Found 'Fit for Work' by the DWP only to die two weeks later.|
|Glenn Harris||55||A sufferer of Lupus, depression and unable to work. Glenn became increasingly worried about his benefits being stopped, and took his life by partially decapitating himself.|
|Aaron Lane||31||A talented musician battling mental health problems who took his own life after he was ruled by the DWP as fit to work.|
|Moira Drury||61||Suffering from limited mobility and mini-strokes, epilepsy and depression. Her daughter later reported that she believed that a seven-month delay in processing her benefit claim hastened her death.|
|Gordon Lang||62||A marine veteran who fought for his country, died from cancer whilst battling the DWP over the loss of his benefits.|
|David Waite||60||A sufferer of many problems ranging from brain damage, neck pain, diabetes and depression. Died following the loss of his benefits.|
|David Brown||18||Took his own life after Job Centre staff belittled him and threatened to sanction his Jobseeker's Allowance.|
|James Harrison||55||Seriously ill with a lung and heart condition, depression and anxiety. Died just months following a DWP request to his GP not to give him any more sick notes.|
|Lawrence Bond||56||Spent his last day alive in a Job Centre being told he was 'Fit for Work', before dying of a heart attack on the way home.|
|Susan Margaret Roberts||56||After being turned down for PIP following the DWP's controversial Work Capability Assessment, this lady, a sufferer of Chronic Fibromyalgia, took her own life.|
|David Metcalf||54||Declared 'Fit for Work' by the DWP after suffering 9 years of extreme anxiety and panic attacks, found dead on a beach after declaring 'What's the Point', and giving his car and bank details to his one and only friend.|
|Elaine Morrall||38||Died alone in her home after the DWP stopped her benefits because 'Being in Intensive Care', was not a good enough reason to have not attended a Universal Credit interview.|
|Phillip Balderson||46||A sufferer of Oesophageal Cancer, Arthritis and various mental health issues. Found 'Fit for Work' by the DWP, only to die before he could register his appeal.|
|Chris Gold||A stroke sufferer who died fighting the DWP, after they declared him 'Fit for Work' and then left him waiting so long for a Universal Credit payment, that his body simply gave out from the stress.|
|Jodey Whiting||A sufferer of depression and recuperating from an operation to remove a cyst from her brain. Ruled 'Fit for Work' by the DWP and deprived of her payments. Jodey took her own life just prior to the DWP admitting fault and reinstating her benefits.|
|Kevin Dooley||48||A sufferer of COPD and chronic depression, who hung himself after the DWP judged him 'Fit to Work', on the grounds that he could still enjoy time with his Grandchildren|
You can see Calum's list in full here
- "Woman in coma told to find work by DWP: Minister apologises, Independent". 28 February 2014.
- "Sheila Holt: Woman ordered to find work while lying in coma dies aged 48, Mirror". 18 March 2015.
- "Atos benefits bullies killed my sick dad, says devastated Kieran, 13, Daily Record,". 10 December 2012.
- "Former nurse killed herself after controversial health test led to change in benefits". 27 November 2014.
- "Dad of two killed himself because he was losing his disability benefits". 2 May 2013.
- "Regulation 28: Prevention of Future Deaths report Michael Brendan O'SULLIVAN(died 24.09.13)" (PDF). June 2014.
- "Fit for work assessment was trigger for suicide, coroner says". 21 September 2015.
- "Benefit cuts 'drove mentally ill man to suicide', sister claims". 11 February 2016.
- "Parents of 'fit for work' suicide man back call for Iain Duncan Smith prosecution". 22 September 2016.
- "PIP claimant who took her own life had written about unfair assessment report". 23 February 2017.
- "DWP ordered to pay £10,000 to family of disabled mother-of-nine, 42, who killed herself after her benefits were stopped". 4 March 2019.
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
In 2007, under the last Labour government, the UK signed up to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). We could be proud in that we not only signed the convention, we moved quickly to ratify and even raised a issue when it was felt that Brunei Darussalam failed to make clear under what exact legal grounds it would be justified not to apply the convention. The convention is a remarkable piece of work developed over years of work and international diplomacy. The convention was opened for signature on 30th March and the UK signed on that day. On its opening day the convention received the highest number of signatories in history of any UN convention. The convention was ratified by 177 countries with the UK fully ratifying on the 8th June 2009. 
As well as being an early signatory and ratifier of the convention, the UK holds the dubious accolade of being the first country to be investigated for contravening the convention and, worse still, to be found to have committed "grave and systematic violations" of the convention.
The UN investigators met with approximately 200 parties and collected 3000 documents. The investigation centred around the Welfare Act 2012, as well as in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 and the impact these acts had on the welfare of people with disabilities. It was concluded both were enacted for reasons of austerity.
- Countries that ratified UNCRPD: https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-15&chapter=4&clang=_en#EndDec
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Articles: adopted on 13 December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It was Opened for signature on 30 March 2007 and the UK signed immediately. The UK ratified 8 June 2009 https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-2.html
- Section 1.5 During its eleventh session, held in April 2014, the Committee assessed all the information before it and determined, pursuant to article 6 of the Convention and rule 84 of its rules of procedure, that there was reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations of the rights set forth in the Convention. The Committee established an inquiry and appointed two of its members as rapporteurs, whose decision was communicated to the State party on 29 May 2014 Media:CRPDC5R2Rev1.pdf
- Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention: Report of the Committee Media:CRPDC5R2Rev1.pdf
Findings: UK Systematic violations of the Convention
The UN Committee concluded that there is reliable evidence that the threshold of grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities has been met in the State party. That conclusion is based on the following findings:
(a) The State party has implemented a policy aimed at reforming its welfare system and the reforms have been justified in the context of austerity measures to achieve fiscal and budgetary policy consolidation;
(b) The assumptions made under the policy include that: taxpayers need to be treated with fairness; large numbers of persons with disabilities have been relying and dependent on social benefits; persons are better off in work than on benefits; the dependency of persons with disabilities on benefits is in itself a disincentive to move them into employment; the number of persons with disabilities relying on social benefits were to be decreased; and tightening sanctions and conditionality of social benefits is a legitimate tool for incentivizing their moving into employment;
(c) The impact assessments conducted by the State party prior to the implementation of several measures of its welfare reform expressly foresaw an adverse impact on persons with disabilities;
(d) Several measures have disproportionally and adversely affected the rights of persons with disabilities;
(e) Measures resulting in reduction of support provided to meet the extra cost of disability, denial of reasonable accommodation in assessment procedures and realization of the right to employment have had a discriminatory effect on persons with disabilities;
(f) The core elements of the rights to independent living and being included in the community, an adequate standard of living and social protection and their right to employment have been affected: persons with disabilities affected by policy changes have had their freedom of choice and control over their daily activities restricted, the extra cost of disability has been set aside and income protection has been curtailed as a result of benefit cuts, while the expected policy goal of achieving decent and stable employment is far from being attained;
(g) There is evidence that a large number of persons with disabilities have been affected (e.g. 13,900 persons with disabilities have lost their Motability schemes and therefore their adapted cars, upon implementation of Personal Independence Payment up to February 2016; 492,180 had been placed in the Employment and Support Allowance work related activity group by end of 2015; 41,792 Employment and Support Allowance work related activity group sanctions were handed out up to March 2014);
(h) Evidence gathered nationally by the Parliament, the independent monitoring framework, universities and research institutes and centres and independent experts, has documented adverse and disproportionate effects of measures on persons with disabilities;
(i) The State party has not conducted a comprehensive human rights-based cumulative impact assessment even though reliable sources have indicated it is feasible;
(j) The State party continues its policy of reducing social benefits of persons with disabilities as reflected in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.
UN Committee Recommendations
The Committee recommended that the State party:
(a) Conduct a cumulative impact assessment of the measures adopted since 2010, referred to in the present report, on the rights to independent living and to be included in the community, social protection and employment of persons with disabilities. The State party should ensure that such assessment is rights-based and meaningfully involves persons with disabilities and their representative organizations;
(b) Ensure that any intended measure of the welfare reform is rights-based, upholds the human rights model of disability and does not disproportionately and/or adversely affect the rights of persons with disabilities to independent living, an adequate standard of living and employment. To prevent adverse consequences, the State party should carry out human rights-based cumulative impact assessments of the whole range of intended measures that would have an impact on the rights of persons with disabilities;
(c) Ensure that: any intended legislation and/or policy measure respects the core elements of the rights analysed in the present report; persons with disabilities retain their autonomy, choice and control over their place of residence and with whom they live; they receive appropriate and individualized support, including through personal assistance, and have access to community-based services on an equal basis with others; they have access to security social schemes that ensure income protection, including in relation to the extra cost of disability, that is compatible with an adequate standard of living and ensures their full inclusion and participation in society; and they have access and are supported in gaining employment in the open labour market on an equal basis with others;
(d) Ensure that public budgets take into account the rights of persons with disabilities, that sufficient budget allocations are made available to cover extra costs associated with living with a disability and that appropriate mitigation measures, with appropriate budget allocations, are in place for persons with disabilities affected by austerity measures;
(e) Introduce all adjustments necessary to make all information, communications, administrative and legal procedures in relation to social security
Government Response to UN Findings
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green rejected the report's findings and said the document demonstrated "an outdated view of disability which is patronising and offensive".
"The UN measures success as the amount of money poured into the system, rather than the work and health outcomes for disabled people," he said.
"The UK is a recognised world leader in disabled rights and equality. Not only do we spend about £50bn a year to support sick and disabled people, but we also offer a wide range of tailored and effective support, which this report fails to recognise."
He added: "Our work and health Green Paper marks a turning point in our action to confront the attitudes, prejudices and misunderstandings within the minds of employers and across wider society."
Interestingly the report's recommendations were rejected in full, despite the committee having trawled through vast quantities of evidence and including submissions from disparate groups. The other sections on this page give a clear picture on the true situation and how it is in fact money that needs putting into the system. The structure was already in place, but was then starved of resources.
- UN: 'Grave' disability rights violations under UK reforms: BBC, published 7th November 2016 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-37899305
Summary of EHRC Findings
The Equality and Human Rights Commission produced a report in 2019 looking at state of Human Rights in the UK in 2018. The report was highly damning of the government's record on Human Rights, particularly in respect of disabled people.
- "Changes to the welfare system since 2010 have made life harder for those in poverty, and this disproportionately affects a large number of disabled people, women, and people from ethnic minorities. Child poverty and homelessness have also continued to rise"
The commission noted that since 2015 access to justice has been severely curtailed due to cuts to legal aid and the disastrous impact of employment tribunal fees blocking people's right to bring to justice employers who have flouted the law.
Some key findings by EHRC on Disability Rights:
- Poverty is particularly prevalent among disabled people
- In line with the EHRC 2015 report, UK-wide reforms to welfare and tax since 2010 continue to have a disproportionate impact on the poorest in society
- These reforms are pulling more people into poverty, particularly disabled people
- Homelessness is also on the rise, putting more people in a precarious position and particularly affecting people from ethnic minorities, disabled people and other at-risk groups
- Disabled people are not enjoying the progress experienced by other groups. Their right to an inclusive education is not being fulfilled – in fact, the proportion of disabled children at special rather than mainstream schools has increased in England and Wales
- The disability pay gap persists, with disabled people earning less per hour on average than non-disabled people
- Disabled people are more likely to be in low-pay occupations and this likelihood has increased
- Disabled people are also more likely to be in poverty
- Those who can’t work rely on an increasingly restricted welfare regime that is projected to lower their living standards even further
- They also face poorer health and lack of access to suitable housing
- "There should be an acute focus on improving life in Britain for disabled people. Government should remove its reservations to Article 24, the right to inclusive education, of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UK Government should also regularly report on progress in meeting its commitment to get one million more disabled people into work over the next 10 years, and support flexible and part-time working to help close the employment and pay gap. We want to see more disabled people participating in public and civic life, and to this end political parties should work with governments to ensure funding for disabled candidates’ additional costs related to their impairment."
The overall finding of the EHRC report was that Disabled people falling further behind in all areas such as work, education, housing and poverty levels.
- "Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
The UN has voiced concerns about the education of disabled children in the UK. In 2017, it reviewed the UK’s progress against the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It expressed objections to the UK’s growing reliance on special schools (this is more of an issue in England than elsewhere) and claimed that the education system is not yet equipped to deliver high-quality, inclusive education in mainstream settings. According to the UN, the UK should commit to ensuring all disabled children receive an inclusive education.
There are also concerns about the legal framework surrounding disabled children’s rights to redress in the education system. Tribunals in England, Scotland and Wales do not currently have the power to award financial compensation when they make a finding of disability discrimination in schools (unlike cases involving race discrimination, for example). The UN has said that the UK should make sure that tribunals have powers to grant appropriate legal remedies in cases of disability discrimination and/or harassment against schoolchildren, including the power to award compensation.
In 2016/17, 67.6% of girls and 60.3% of boys attained grades 9–4 in English and Mathematics. The difference was very large between pupils with Special Education Needs (SEN), 25.0% of whom attained these grades, compared with those without SEN (70.4%). These figures clearly indicate the government is failing in meeting the education needs of SEN children .
- "Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out bythe Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention, United Nations" (PDF). 6 October 2016.
- "Page 29 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
Since 2010 there has been an increase in the proportion of disabled people inlow-pay occupations. Disabled people are more likely than non-disabledpeople to be in low-pay occupations .
While rates of employment of disabled people have improved, the employment rate for non-disabled people aged 16–64 (81.1%) was still significantly higher than for disabled people aged 16–64 (50.7%) in January to March 2018 (ONS, 2018b), although the disability gap has narrowed from 32.7 percentage points in January to March 2015 to 30.3 percentage points in January to March 2018.21 Disabled people are more likely to be economically inactive than non-disabled people; in the same period 3.3 million disabled people aged 16–64 were economically inactive. This meant that 44.2% of disabled people of working age were neither in work, nor looking for work, compared with only 15.9% of non-disabled people. Disabled people of working age were also more likely than non-disabled people to be unemployed (9.1%, compared with 3.6%), although the disability gap has narrowed from 6.2 percentage points in January to March 2015 to 5.6 percentage points in January to March 2018 (ONS, 2018b). The employment rate gap between disabled and non-disabled people is particularly wide for those aged 50–64 (Powell, 2018). Employment rates for disabled people also vary considerably according to the type of impairment; in March 2018, less than a quarter of people with learning difficulties, a speech impediment or mental health conditions were in employment (Powell, 2018) .
The EHRC report found disabled people, women, and many ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty or to experience severe material deprivation. UK-wide reforms to social security and taxes since 2010 are having a disproportionately negative impact on the poorest in society and are particularly affecting women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and lone parents with benefit sanctionsapplied inconsistently and disproportionately impact disabled people .
Bedroom Tax introduced under the Tory / Lib Dem coaltion had a disproportinate impact on the disabled as the spare room was often needed to contain specialist equipment. The legislation was ruled illegal as the court found that imposing the cap on people who had an obvious medical need for an extra bedroom was unlawful discrimination. However this was not before many disabled people had suffered severe hardship due to the legislation .
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expressed in 2017 concern about ‘policies and measures that affect the ability to live independently in the community, such as the reduction in social protection schemes related to housing, household income and budgets for independent living, as well as the closure of the Independent Living Fund’ in England .
EHRC found that disabled people across Britain are demoralised and frustrated by the housing system, reporting a severe shortage of accessible houses across all tenures. Disabled people can experience serious deterioration in their mental wellbeing due to living in unsuitable accommodation. There is a chronic shortage of accessible homes, as local authorities are not building enough to meet increasing demand. Installing home adaptations involves unacceptable bureaucracy and delay and disabled people are often left waiting for long periods of time, even for minor adaptations. Disabled people are also not getting the support that they need to live independently as the provision of advice, support and advocacy is patchy and people report that they have nowhere to turn when their housing is unsuitable .
- "Page 62 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
- "Page 64 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
- "Page 70 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
- "Page 76 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
EHRC analysis of changes to taxes, benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit since 2010 found that by the 2021/22 tax year, the largest impacts will be felt by those with lower incomes and that the changes will have a disproportionately negative impact on several protected groups. Negative impacts are particularly large for households with more disabled members, and more severely disabled individuals, as well as for lone parents on low incomes. For households with at least one disabled adult and a disabled child, average annual cash losses are just over £6,500 – over 13% of average net income (Portes and Reed, 2018) .
Analyses of Department for Work and Pensions data show that some groups of claimants are more likely to be sanctioned than others. In 2014, the sanctioning rate for self-declared disabled Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants was 26%–28% higher than for non-disabled claimants .
Several studies indicate that sanctions may not have been effective at encouraging people into work. Research showed as more disabled people were sanctioned, there was a corresponding increase in the number of disabled people not in work (Reeves, 2017). Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants who were sanctioned were less likely to gain employment in later months, whereas for JSA claimants the likelihood of gaining employment increased (National Audit Office, 2016a).50 The UK Government’s policy to intensify the use of sanctions and introduce harsher penalties has been largely ineffective at moving people from JSA into sustainable employment (Taulbut et al., 2018). Benefit sanctions had no tangible positive effects in moving disabled people closer to paid work and worsened many disabled people’s illnesses and impairments, particularly mental health conditions (Dwyer et al., 2018) .
In 2015/16 disabled adults (25.5%) were more likely than non-disabled adults (17.9%) to be living in poverty. Those with mental health conditions (35.6%) and social and behavioural (37.6%) impairments were around twice as likely to be living in poverty as non-disabled adults. For people with mental health conditions, this reduced by 5.7 percentage points between 2013/14 and 2015/16. The proportion of disabled people living in poverty was greater in Wales (32.1%) than England (25.1%) or Scotland (24.3%). Disabled people (36.8%) were nearly three times as likely to experience severe material deprivation as non-disabled people (13.5%), but around half of people with impairments related to memory (51.0%), mental health conditions (48.4%), learning, understanding or concentration (47.8%), or social and behavioural impairments (47.4%) experienced severe material deprivation .
A survey of Trussell Trust food bank users found that certain groups may be more affected than others by food poverty. Of households with a disabled person 49% were likely to use food banks. One-third of food bank clients were awaiting a benefit payment (Loopstra and Lalor, 2017) .
- "Page 77 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
- "Page 78 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
- "Page 78 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
- "Page 80 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
- "Page 83 - Is Britain Fairer? (The state of equality and human rights 2018), EHRC" (PDF). June 2019.
Access to Transport
Transport presents one of the greatest challenges to disabled people; not only those with mobility impairments, but those with vision and hearing impairments, and mental health conditions, can experience barriers to accessing transport (House of Lords, 2016) .
Access to transport services is in danger of becoming more restricted for some users, due to reduced bus services and inconsistency in government efforts to ensure access to transport for disabled users .
|Disability News Service (DNS) is run by John Pring, an experienced journalist who has been reporting on disability issues for more than 20 years. He launched DNS in April 2009 to address the absence of in-depth reporting in both the specialist and mainstream media on issues that affect the lives of disabled people. The news service focuses on issues such as discrimination equality, independent living, benefits, poverty and human rights, but also covers arts, culture and sport. Disability News Service campaign and activism page, provides excellent links to on-going campaigns and campaign groups.|
A multi award-winning charity that provides a comprehensive news and information service for people whose lives are affected by disability, ill-health and age. In addition to the website, All Together NOW! publishes an action-packed FREE print publication – SIX times a year. Their full-colour, tabloid newspaper has a print run of 110,000 copies – with 90 per cent of copies being eagerly picked up at supermarkets, hospitals and health centres across the North West.
Choices and Rights staff members manage the Information Service, Direct Payments Support Schemes, Database of Potential Personal Assistants, Disability Information Service, Disability Equality Training, Consultancy,Equality Act Advice (Disability) and Personal Health Budgets Support Scheme. Choices and Rights is an organisation for disabled people in the Kingston upon Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire area. Choices and Rights are 100% run and controlled by disabled people. They believe that the best experts on the needs of disabled people are disabled people themselves.
Black Triangle was established to galvanise opposition to the current vicious attack on the fundamental human rights of disabled people by Government using “Work Capability Assessments” to re-classify sick and disabled individuals as “fit for work”. It is salutary to use the black triangle as the symbol of the UK Disabled People’s Protest Movement because British society is at present seeing an increasing number of violent and deadly attacks on people of disability in the community, and the tormenting of disabled people leading to tragic suicides and an official policy on the part of the State to infer that disabled people are just “workshy” and must be reclassified as “fit for work.”
In 3 years Disability Rights intends to enable at least 50,000 diverse disabled people to have voice and influence, connecting with each other and with them. They support change agents and enable disabled people to exert power and influence. They will work in partnership with other Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to showcase approaches to social, economic and public participation and share learning, including through joint projects. They will work with many organisations in a position to act, in all sectors, to support them to put disabled people’s priorities at the heart of their policies and practices. They will campaign to strengthen and protect disabled people’s rights.
Disability Wales exists to champion the rights, equality and independence of all disabled people in Wales. As a membership organisation run by disabled people, they provide a strong voice and leadership to influence policy on the issues that matter to our members. Their member Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) cover all areas of Wales, campaigning on local issues and strengthening the work they do nationally. Wales has the highest proportion of disabled people in the UK, at 26%. All have a huge task on our hands to tackle inequality and exclusion.
On Disabled Go website you’ll find detailed access information to thousands of venues across the UK and the Republic of Ireland: shops, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, railway stations, hotels, universities, hospitals and more. Established over 14 years ago, their mission is to maximise independence and choice for disabled people in accessing their local area and the places we all want to visit. They work on behalf of Local Authorities, top Universities, NHS Trusts and private sector organisations to publish detailed access information on well over 125,000 places of interest across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. They also have a number of prominent strategic partnerships, particularly in the travel and tourism sector, with organisations such as Visit England, Visit London (London & Partners / Greater London Authority), Tourism For All and Open Britain.
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) was formed by a group of disabled people after the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people held on the 3rd October in Birmingham, England. It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest.
DPAC is for everyone who believes that disabled people should have full human rights and equality. It is for everyone who refuses to stay silent about the injustices delivered by wealthy politicians on ordinary people and their lives.
The austerity measures however need to be seen in a wider historical context. Disabled people are an easy target because society has accepted the view that generally speaking disabled people are unable to fully participate within society due solely to our impairments. This view, supported through negative and pejorative stereotyping, distorts who we are and the causes of the disabling barriers we face. Inappropriate and misleading labels such as “the disabled” or “vulnerable adults or children” reinforce prejudices and discrimination.
Disabled people are not “the disabled” – we are a diverse social group of people with a variety of impairments who continue to face unequal and differential treatment resulting from systems, structures and cultures which fail to take disabled people into account. Disabled people are not, therefore, simply subjected to disablist language and imagery but also to combined forms of inequality and oppressive representation across the equality strands.
The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) is an alliance of Disabled People and their organisations ’s (DPOs) in England who have joined together to defend disabled people’s rights and campaign for an inclusive society. ROFA fights for equality for disabled people in England and works with sister organisations across the UK in the tradition of the international disability movement. We base our work on the social model of disability, human and civil rights in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). We oppose the discriminatory and disproportionate attacks on our rights by past and current Government’s. Alliance member organisations have been at the forefront of campaigning against austerity and welfare reform and inequality.
Inclusion London supports over 70 Deaf and Disabled Organisations working across every London borough. Through these organisations, our reach extends to over 70,000 Disabled Londoners.
Motability support people with disabilities in achieving greater independence, through access to affordable, worry-free mobility. Through the Scheme, Motability lease cars, scooters and powered wheelchairs to people in exchange for their mobility allowance .
They are passionate about improving the lives of our 650,000 customers and their families, and focus on meeting their needs. They aim to offer unbeatable value, and provide award-winning customer service. All profits are reinvested into the Scheme for the benefit of customers.
Possability People is here to support you. Whether you, a family member, friend or someone who you know is disabled or has a long term health condition or impairment, our information is for you. You are not alone. If you are disabled, have a long term health condition or need some help at home, there are lots of ways that Possability People can help you to live independently. Possability People offers a wide range of support to disabled people, their families, friends and carers.
Shaping Our Lives is a central depository for resources for service users and disabled people.