Thursday 10 March 2011

Amending The Welfare Reform Bill

As a politically neutral group, The Broken of Britain has no ideological position on the Welfare Reform Bill. However, it does seem disappointing that most Labour MPs decided to abstain in the vote on the Bill at the Second Reading given that many of them objected to the reform of Disability Living Allowance.

The Broken of Britain has prepared a list of suggested amendments to the Bill that will remove what we consider to be "anti-disability" provisions. These amendments have been discussed for quite some time, and have been sent to the 22 MPS who voted against the Bill. We will now focus on winning support from Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MPs for these amendment.

List of 22 MPs who voted *AGAINST* the #WRB - #TBofB #LOITC #ProjV

12 MPs turned up 4 debate + 99 others who didn't, to vote = Commons that doesn't care about disabled people - with the notable exception of the following 22 MPs who voted against the Welfare Reform Bill. A huge thank you to TBofB Supporter Peter Lockhart for compiling this list for us.

Ronnie Campbell (Lab)
Katy Clark (Lab
Michael Connarty (Lab)
Jeremy Corbyn (Lab
Jon Cruddas (Lab)
Mark Durkan (SDLP)
Jonathan Edwards (PC)
Dai Havard (Lab)
Kelvin Hopkins (Lab)
Stewart Hosie (SNP)
Sian James (Lab)
Elfyn Llwyd (PC)
Naomi Long (Alliance)
Caroline Lucas (Green)
Angus MacNeil (SNP)
John McDonnell (Lab)
Angus Robertson (SNP)
Jim Sheridan (Lab)
Dennis Skinner (Lab)
Eilidh Whiteford (SNP)
Hywel Williams (PC) 
Mike Wood (Lab)

John McDonnell MP (Lab) tweeted: "Ed Miliband decided PLP should only vote for amendment to Tories Welfare cuts Bill & then abstain. It is so appalling I am voting against."


Wednesday 9 March 2011

2nd Reading of Welfare Reform Bill - Summary #TBofB #LOITC #ProjV

Today was the 2nd reading of the Welfare Reform Bill and, on the whole, it seemed a very constructive, mannerly affair with both sides of the house making reasoned arguments. There seemed to be a genuine desire on both sides of the house to make sure the reforms were fair and any problems resolved.

The main points that came up time and again were those things IDS couldn't confirm, the parts of reform for which details haven't been decided despite them being in the original bill. These include :

-Child Tax Credit will be abolished but IDS cannot confirm what will take it's place One study seems to imply that whilst currently up to 97% of childcare is paid for, this might drop to 70% acting as a disincentive to work

-We also don't know what will happen about free school meals, passporting of benefits, disability premiums,  housing for those on DLA or whether DLA will continue after retirement age. Council tax benefit and elements of support for carers are also unclear. Labour argued throughout the debate that there were far too many details yet to be presented to the house.

-Labour continually pointed out that without work to go to, these reforms would fail andcause hardship and inequality. Jobs MUST be the starting point for welfare reform.

-The savings cap came up over and over again. Members argued that capping savings at £16,000 for those on Universal Credit did not "foster ambition"

- Members on both sides raised concerns over the Work Capability Assessments and reassurance was given that these would be addressed.

It was however, noticeable from the start that by far the biggest issue was sickness and disability benefit reform. It came up over and over again from members on both sides of the house, many waving sheaths of letters from frightened constituents. A HUGE congratulations to campaigners who have worked tirelessly to make sure that MPs were well informed on the issues sick and disabled people face. It showed in every part of the debate that the message had got through.

Questions were asked on DLA and it seems that the government have backed down on scrapping mobility payments for adults in care homes. Liam Byrne pushed IDS for confirmation which wasn't quite given, but it was certainly a stronger concession than was given last week.

For a while it looked as though Labour might back down on time limiting ESA and certainly, many Labour MPs raised this issue as one of the greatest causes for concern. Byrne didn't quite back down, but it seemed to me that this may still be up for debate - a positive sign.

Many MPs also mentioned that DLA was in little need of reform. It was an occurring theme that announcing a 20% cut in the benefit before any assessment had taken place could only be viewed as a cost cutting measure and would understandably cause concern. I wondered if there might be a push to remove DLA from the WRB altogether as too many details were still too unclear? Watch this space.

Concerns were raised over ATOS and the assessment process. IDS was pushed on whether he would reconsider inflicting regular assessments on those who's disabilities were lifelong or degenerative. this was one area he stood very firm on. He saw nothing wrong with assessing ANY benefit regularly.

The Conservative side of the argument was nearly always that benefits were far too complicated and that work must pay. I disagree with neither of those statements and felt that there would be little resistance to changing specific details as long as those two points were rigorously upheld. They mentioned a desire to see real jobs that pay - another desire I can't disagree with

Finally, I'd like to point out that attendance in the house was shameful. A handful of MPs scattered the benches during this, the most important change to our welfare system for 60 years. Along with the NHS proposals, I urge EVERY MP to take his or her responsibility more seriously in our name. They ALL need to be informed on these proposals and surely every constituent has the right to think that his or her MP will give this enormous overhaul their full attention?

Sadly, right at the end when the cameras came in, Chris Grayling, the final speaker, turned the debate into a party political row. It WASN'T like that all the way through. This issue should be above politics. To their credit, most who spoke managed this admirably.

The (Lab) amendment failed by 244 Ayes, 317 Noes. Where were the other 89 MPs? Again, I don't care about excuses. This is too important to miss.

Update : John McDonnell MP (Lab) is tweeting that Ed Miliband told Labour MPs (PLP) to ABSTAIN on the bill, and to only support the amendment. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that one. I'm way too deflated. 

By Sue Marsh   - Oringinally posted at her "Diary of a Benefit Scrounger" Blog

Left Out In The Cold - Keep An Eye On Them!

Legislators must be watched and monitored in order to make sure that they act in our best interest. You can watch Hywel Williams' MP Private Member's Debate at Westminster Hall from 9.30 am - 11 am by going here.

Yoou should definitely watch the Second Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill on the Parliament website, or on BBC Parliament which you can also stream online. The Reading may go on until 7pm, and is scheduled soon after PMQs. Remember to watch and make sure that disabled people aren't left out in the cold.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Left Out In The Cold - The Second Reading And The Next Steps

The Second Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill at the House of Commons is tomorrow. It is a big day for welfare campaigners, and the Welfare Reform Bill deals with many issues besides disability. Interpretation of these reforms depend very much on one's political leanings, although most people would agree that 'benefits traps' are a real phenomenon and that the debate is on the difference of approaches to ending this circular deprivation. However, The Broken of Britain is keen to remove the 'anti-disability' provisions of the Bill. How will we go about that?

A Public Bill passes through the House of Commons in five stages, before being passed on to the House of Lords. The First Reading of a Bill, which happened two weeks ago in this case, is a simple reading out of the Bill, with no questions or debate afterward. The Second Reading is the first opportunity for MPs to debate the Bill, and leads into the Committee and Report stages. These stages are where it is easiest to amend the Bill - in this case, removing the anti-disability provisions.

That is why The Broken of Britain decided to launch the campaign ahead of the Second Reading, as we must ensure that MPs are fully aware of all the issues that concern us ahead of the Committee and Report stages. An outright rejection of the Bil at voting after the Second Reading is not a campaign aim, but we are hoping to encourage debate on the hardship these welfare reform will cause for people with disabilities. This will create pressure for changes during the next stages of the Bill. At the Third Reading in the Commons, the hope is that amendments will have been tabled and will be accepted. If not, The Broken of Britain will maintain the pressure as the Bill goes through the same five stages in the House of Lords. Each time one of you speaks out, you add to this pressure.

Letter In The Guardian

The Guardian has printed an open letter organized by The Broken of Britain. You can view this letter in The Guardian newspaper, or on the Society Guardian pages.

I Don't Want To Be Left Out In The Cold #TBofBTT

This blog is part of our regular Talking Tuesday/Thinking Thursday Writers' Series, but written specially for the Left Out In The Cold campaign

by Helly Copeland (@hellycopeland)

I am someone who claims incapacity benefit but I'm certainly not a scrounger, or work-shy. I am in fact a young woman who has lived with a systemic illness for the last 36 years. I was born with a condition called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), sometimes also known as stills disease.

The JIA was very aggressive, attacking all my joints and causing deformity. It also meant I faced many years ahead with surgery and medication. It's also progressive, meaning that the disease will advance in severity, complexity, or extent.

Over the years I have come up against many hurdles and frustration, not only with my disability but also with the benefits I have claimed as well as relationships.

My first experience of disability benefit was when aged 7, my parents applied for care and mobility allowance. It was turned down straight away but on appeal was awarded for a year. Every year after that, Mum would have to reapply. Every year I would have a doctor come to the house to do a medical. Every year I would have to show how I walked up and down the stairs, carry out certain tasks and answer endless questions from how I got dressed to how I went to the toilet. For me as a child it was painful and confusing. For my Mum it was frustrating and hard, especially having to watch your child live like this.

Aged 10 and because of an admin error, my benefits got stopped. It took a year of fighting to get it back. The benefit had helped pay for various things, including a cheap car, my shoes which wore out quickly due to the way I walked, increased bills from having heating on all day and needing a warm bath every morning.

Aged 18 I took the decision not to reapply for the care component. I was struggling with my disability and the acceptance of it. It just felt that I was constantly being made to prove my condition, even though it was permanent and progressive.

I met someone, we set up home together and got married. I'd been working since leaving college. However, when I was off for major surgery the mortgage company said that payment protection would not cover me due to a pre-existing condition. This put immense pressure on us because my husband was having to work all the hours to pay the mortgage. At the same time I was quite ill, was dealing with a breakdown and needed support. I reapplied for DLA Care which was awarded and helped tremendously.

Sadly the pressure of having a long term condition meant that we split up 5 years later when I was off work again through illness. We had to sell the house to pay off arrears and I faced my 2nd breakdown. I registered as homeless and the search was on for somewhere for me to live.

It was at this point I discovered other benefits... Income support, which in turn meant that I received housing and council tax benefit. This took a huge pressure off me as it meant I could focus on getting ready for the surgery that was ahead. Its hard enough when a progressive illness affects your life but having a support network means you can keep your independence.

My next relationship had similar hurdles. Moving in together meant that the most of my benefits were stopped because they were income related. Straight away this put pressure on the relationship as I was still unable to work due to ongoing surgery. This meant that my boyfriend was now supporting me financially and while he already owned his house so was managing a mortgage, the council tax, electric, gas and food bills all increased even though my money decreased.

I returned to work and felt good being able to contribute to the home but soon needed more surgery and my depression returned. Through bullying I had to leave my job. I couldn't cope with the pressure put on me by my line manager. Being on incapacity benefit meant a considerable drop in income and just because you have a drop in income, doesn't mean you have a drop in outgoings. While you cut back on social activities, you still have to pay utility bills. Being at home most of the day, electricity and gas bills increase. Despite having a progressive condition that is severely affected by cold, I don't receive winter fuel payments. As I'm no longer entitled to incapacity benefit, I don't get cold weather payments.

The welfare reform that is going on at the moment has left me feeling more scared that I have ever been. My incapacity benefit will probably go over to contributory ESA... If I don't meet set requirements then it could mean the benefit is stopped. ESA will also have a time limit of 1 year and after that because my husband is earning, I will lose entitlement completely.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP), will replace the existing Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This will again use certain assessments and conditions, ones I suspect will go in favour of reducing the amount of claimants. I'm even expecting to lose my car...

The Government want to send out the message that work pays but at whose cost? It might weed out the small minority who fraudulently claim but for the genuine people it adds unnecessary stress. I would definitely lose my independence and most certainly my sanity. The difference these benefits make, the things that it pays for and without those, my life would certainly be different.

Its hard enough living with a permanent progressive condition, but now feel like I am being left out in the cold... and probably another marriage in ruins...

Monday 7 March 2011

Left Out In The Cold - Welfare Reform Briefings

Quite a few correspondents have asked where they can learn more about the Welfare Reform Bill, so here are a few pointers. The first piece of advice is to ignore any press releases and statements by the Department of Work and Pensions, which are deliberately misleading. The best source is this FullFact parliamentary briefing which will give an excellent grounding on the facts of welfare reform.

The second must-read source is this briefing which provides a deconstruction of the case for reform of Disability Living Allowance, an overview of the debate on the proposed Personal Independence Payment, and an examination of the welfare reform bill and disability,

Left Out In The Cold - Template Letter To Your MP

As part of the Left Out In The Cold campaign, there will be a debate in Westminster Hall on the reform of Disability Living Allowance on the morning of the 9th of March, a couple of hours prior to the Second Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill. The Second Reading is the first opportunity for the House of Commons to debate a Public Bill. This means that the debate at Westminster Hall, from 9.30am - 11am, will give MPs a reminder and primer on the issues to raise regarding Disability Living Allowance.

It is important that your MP should be reminded to attend the debate on reform of DLA in Westminster Hall on Wednesday morning, and to debate disability issues during the Second Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill that afternoon. This is a template e-mail that you can cut and paste to remind them:

Dear Member of Parliament,

I write to ask you to attend the debate on reform of DLA in Westminster Hall this Wednesday morning, from 9.30 am to 11 am, and to debate disability issues during the Second Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill on that afternoon.

The Welfare Reform Bill contains a number of provisions that will be harmful to disabled people, as noted here and supported by over 100 social policy experts.

The debate at Westminster Hall, from 9.30am will serve as a reminder and primer on the issues to raise regarding Disability Living Allowance and I urge you to read this briefing and this FullFact parliamentary briefing which will inform you of all the disability issues you should discuss.

Yours sincerely,

Left Out In The Cold - Why We Oppose The Welfare Reform Bill

First posted at Community Care - Service User Voice
by Melissa Smith

The Welfare Reform Bill, proposed by the government last month, has created a pervasive sense of fear and anxiety in the disabled community of Britain. With what can easily be described as ‘anti-disability’ policies throughout, the Welfare Reform Bill aims to change and remove ‘benefits’ that the majority of disabled people in Britain rely on, and has real potential to damage the lives of so many vulnerable people. Despite their title, ‘benefits’ do not give those who claim them a better life than those who do not; for disabled people, this financial support allows us to achieve a basic standard of living and quality of life.

The Broken of Britain are vehemently opposing the anti-disability policies within the Welfare Reform Bill, as we are acutely aware of the devastation they will bring. We know that disabled people face being forced under the poverty line, leaving them to live like third-class citizens, struggling to fund the necessities of daily life: housing, heating and food. They will be even less able to pay for the expenses that result from being disabled, including mobility aids and personal and medical care.

We are also gravely concerned about the proposed methods and processes of assessing the extent of claimants’ disabilities and their ability to work; the exhaustive paperwork, interviews and assessments will be too much cope with for those already experiencing the chronic fatigue that accompanies so many physical and mental disabilities. The Work Capability Assessment is a “complete mess” according to its creator Professor Paul Gregg, who also admitted that it would cause “stress…misclassification [and] anguish” to all disabled people who are subjected to it.

The Welfare Reform Bill is an unacceptable regression in the fight for the rights of disabled people. It is already making those who rely on benefits, while desperately wishing they didn’t, feel that they are being punished for their ill-health and vulnerability. These proposals are re-establishing the archaic social stigmas attached to being disabled, and The Broken of Britain realise that the myriad impacts of this Bill may be too much for some to bear. We will not tolerate disabled people being made to feel that they cannot continue to live, nor we accept measures that will make their lives a near impossibility. That is why The Broken of Britain is opposing this Bill, and why we hope you will join us.

Left Out In The Cold - What DLA Means To Me

This campaign is against all anti-disability provisions in the Welfare Reform Bill, so we are loath to focus on one benefit, but it is clear that the reform of the Disability Living Allowance is key for most disabled people. At the same time, it is sometimes quite hard for able-bodied people to "get" DLA: to understand that it is not a bonus or compensation for disability but a vital support for disabled people. BendyGirl has blogged on this in the past, and today we have put together a selection of quotes from real people that may help to explain DLA:

DLA helps my sister pay for the extra costs gluten-free dietary needs and for her additional heating costs.

My brother needs his DLA to pay for someone to clean his flat, do his laundry and prepare meals for him, ever since his car accident.

DLA paid for me to continue at work helping homeless people after my accident as I couldn't use public transport.

Since she started using a wheelchair, DLA enables my wife to go out with a paid support worker to access the outside world.

DLA pays for my friend with terminal cancer so she can make the most of the final months of her life with friends and family.

DLA pays for my cousin’s speech recognition equipment so she can continue to work as a writer on days when her hands hurt too much to type.

Without DLA to pay for my extra transport costs I would not be able to get to exhibitions for my artwork.

I get DLA without it I would have to rob my son (a 14 year old young carer) of more of his precious childhood.

My daughter’s wheelchair is paid for out of her DLA.

DLA has meant that I can have a shower as I was unable to get in and out of the bath safely.

DLA has helped my brother to obtain an all terrain scooter to enable him to take his dogs for a proper walk.

I never expected life to turn out like it has done. DLA has helped me cope with the change.

DLA helps my son to attend appointments in hospitals far from home as the expertise to help him with his condition is not available locally.

Since she developed arthritis my Mum uses her DLA to buy ready meals for use when she is too ill to cook for herself.

DLA helped pay for a specially geared tricycle that my seven-year old daughter can use to cycle to school, keep fit and play like other kids.

DLA pays for my autistic son to attend swimming, riding and football after school as he requires one-to-one support.

DLA helps my sister to pay for treatments such as osteopathy and chiropody, not available through my GP.

After Dad’s stroke DLA helped pay for his care needs so that he could continue living at home.

DLA helps me to pay for transport to work so that I can continue teaching Special Educational Needs children.

Letter On Anti-Disability Provisions

This is the text of a letter which appeared in The Guardian on the 8th of March, 2011:

The welfare reform bill, to be given its second reading in the Commons tomorrow, disguises cuts and changes to a number of benefits that will punish disabled people. In particular, the bill will time-limit contribution-related employment support allowance to 365 days, so that a claimant becomes ineligible after a year if their spouse or partner works.

The bill confirms that disability living allowance (DLA) will be replaced by the personal independence payment, which will use unfair assessment and conditions to disqualify 20% of the current DLA caseload. The inclusion of this change in the bill took place before the consultation on DLA reform was completed. The reasons for this reform are unclear, as reported by the social security advisory committee, with ministers denying that cuts are the motivation for change. Objectivity and independence of assessment are some of the reasons offered by the minister for disabled people; while there may be a case for objective assessment, we believe that evidence from GPs and specialists should be sufficient in many cases as it is at present. We are concerned that the reasons given by the minister suggest GPs and specialists cannot be trusted to provide medical evidence.

Available evidence, including DWP research, suggests DLA is an efficient and well-regarded benefit, with the lowest rate of fraud in the benefits system. As such, any reforms should be undertaken with caution, and it is important that any evidence-gathering is relevant, truly independent and conducted by appropriately qualified professionals, and that proper weight is given to other evidence, for example from the claimant's GP.

For these reasons, we call for the reform of DLA, and other "anti-disability" provisions that will place extra pressure on social care and social services, to be removed from the welfare reform bill.

Yours sincerely,

Hywel Williams MP
Kate Green MP
Jon Cruddas MP
John McDonnell MP
Jonathan Edwards MP
Glenda Jackson MP
Martin Caton MP
Rt Hon Elfyn Llwyd MP
Linda Fabiani MSP
Kenneth Gibson MSP
Jamie Hepburn MSP
Anne McLaughlin MSP
Bill Kidd MSP
Leanne Wood AM
Bethan Jenkins AM
Helen-Mary Jones AM
Nerys Evans AM
Dai Lloyd AM
Lord Dafydd Wigley of Caernarfon
Baroness Anna Healy of Primrose Hill
Gavin Hayes, Compass (Director)
Hilton Dawson, BASW, the College of Social Work (Chief Executive)
Alison Garnham, Child Poverty Action Group (Chief Executive)
Alexandra Kemp, Women and Carers' Pensions Network
Anne Coote, New Economics Foundation (Head of Social Policy)
Prof. Julie Allan (University of Stirling), Education
Prof. Colin Barnes (University of Leeds), Disability Studies
Prof. Peter Beresford (Brunel University), Social Policy
Prof. Anne Borsay (Swansea University), Medical Humanities
Prof. Roger Burrows (University of York), Sociology of Health and Illness
Prof. John Carpenter (University of Bristol), Social Work
Prof. Luke Clements (Cardiff University), Disability Rights Law
Prof. Viviene Cree (University of Edinburgh), Social Work
Prof. Graham Crow (University of Southampton), Sociology
Dr. Graham Day (Bangor University), Social Science
Prof. Ann Davis (University of Birmingham), Social Work
Prof. Hartley Dean (LSE), Social Policy
Prof. Mark Drakeford (Cardiff University), Social Policy
Prof. Nick Ellison (University of Leeds, Sociology and Social Policy
Dr Iain Ferguson (University of Stirling), Social Work
Dr. Joanna Ferrie (University of Glasgow), Disability Research
Prof. Mike Floyd (City University), Disability and Rehabilitation
Dr. Margaret Flynn, Journal of Adult Protection (Editor)
Prof. Barry Goldson (University of Liverpool), Charles Booth Chair of Social Science
Prof. Nick Gould (University of Bath), Social Work
Prof. Gordon Grant (Sheffield Hallam University), Health and Social Care
Prof. Jennifer Harris (University of Dundee), Disability Research
Dr, Laura Hemingway (University of Leeds), Disability and Housing
Prof. Paul Higgs (UCL), Sociology of Ageing
Prof. Kelley Johnson (University of Bristol), Disability Policy and Practice
Prof. Michael Lavalette (Liverpool Hope University), Head of Social Work
Professor the Baroness Ruth Lister of Burtersett, Social Policy
Prof. Jane Millar (University of Bath), Social Policy
Prof. Patrick McGuiness (University of Oxford), Modern Languages
Dr. Janice McLaughlin (Newcastle University), Policy and Ethics
Prof. Stuart Murray (University of Leeds), Contemporary Literature and Film
Prof. Andrew Oswald (University of Warwick), Economics and Behavioural Sciences
Dr. Kevin Paterson (University of Glasgow), Disability Research
Prof. Chris Phillipson (Keele University), Applied Social Studies
Dr. Susan Pickard (University of Liverpool), Sociology of Chronic Illness
Prof. Mark Priestley (University of Leeds), Disability Policy
Prof. Diane Richardson (Newcastle University), Social Policy
Dr. Gwyneth Roberts (Bangor University), Social Policy
Prof. Alan Roulstone (Northumbria University), Applied Social Sciences
Prof. Karen Rowlingson (University of Birmingham), Social Policy
Prof. Jonathan Rutherford (Middlesex University), Cultural Studies
Dr. Sonali Shah (University of Leeds), Disability Studies
Dr. Alison Sheldon (University of Leeds), Disability Studies
Dr. Margrit Shildrick (Queen’s University Belfast), Disability Theory
Prof. Nick Spencer (University of Warwick), Child Health
Prof. Paul Spicker (Robert Gordon University), Public Policy
Prof. Bruce Stafford (University of Nottingham), Disability and Social Policy
Prof. Kirsten Stalker (University of Strathclyde), Social Work
Prof. Guy Standing (University of Bath), Economic Security
Prof. John Swain (Northumbria University), Disability and Inclusion
Prof. Allan Walker (University of Sheffield), Social Policy and Social Gerontology
Prof. Nick Watson (University of Glasgow), Disability Research
Dr. Rose Wiles (University of Southampton), Sociology of Chronic Illness
Prof. Charlotte Williams (Keele University), Social Policy
Prof. Fiona Williams OBE (University of Leeds), Social Policy
Prof. John Williams (Aberystwyth University), Welfare Law
Prof. Sue Wise (Lancaster University), Social Justice
Dr. Sarah Woodin (University of Leeds), Disability and Independent Living
Prof. Alys Young (University of Manchester), Social Work Education and Research
Peter Ede MA (Cantab), Solicitor
Alan Woodall GP
Shannon Murray, model and actress
Liz Crow, Roaring Girl Productions
Anne Novis MBE, disability rights campaigner
James Hourihan, Timian Training and Development (Director)
Naomi Jacobs, campaigner and PhD student in disability studies
Fiona Laird, theatre director and writer
Mat Fraser, actor and comedian
Claire Litt, freelance interior and exhibition designer
Sue Marsh, campaigner on chronic illness
Lisa Egan, Helen Thomas, Philippa Willitts, Emma Crees, DH Kelly, Louise Bolotin, Sharon Brennan, of the Where’s the Benefit? blog
Frances Kelly, Rosemary O’Neill, founders of CarerWatch
Carole Rutherford, on behalf of Act Now
Kaliya Franklin, Rhydian Fôn James, Lisa Ellwood, Melissa Smith, on behalf of The Broken of Britain

Left Out In The Cold - PRESS RELEASE

“We don’t want to be ‘Left Out In The Cold’ ”, say Britain’s disabled people.
On the eve of the second reading of the government’s controversial Welfare Reform Bill on 9th March, a stark image of disabled campaigner Kaliya Franklin aims to convey how vulnerable some of the bills proposals will leave sick and disabled people across the UK.

The photograph depicts a naked Franklin lying on the sand on a wintry beach, next to her empty wheelchair.

Just like Franklin’s wheelchair in the image, social care and support will be left out of reach for many of those most in need if these reforms go ahead, literally leaving many “Left Out in the Cold.”

“We decided to use one thought provoking image to make our point,” explains Franklin. “Sick and disabled people are often left voiceless in society, so we hoped using a single image might reflect this.”

Says Franklin, “It’s vital we all remember we are just an accident or illness away from becoming disabled. Many people think if they do become disabled that the state will look after them.

“But the fact is that even under current provisions, disability benefits are not enough for disabled people to live on. If the Welfare Reform Bill is passed, the situation will become unimaginably worse.”

In January, Franklin released a video on YouTube that explained how able-bodied people would be in for a major shock if they found themselves needing to apply for disability benefits. The video can be seen at

The Broken of Britain group has been campaigning since summer 2010 to raise awareness of the government’s wider anti-disability policies. The group has consistently drawn attention to disabled people being the target of unjust government rhetoric and sham consultations, tabloid slander and political myths.

It says: “We are now the targets of deep and damaging cuts to disability services that are contained in and symbolised by the Welfare Reform Bill. The Bill disguises cuts and changes to a number of benefits, from housing benefit to Income Support that will punish disabled people.”

Notes for editors

1. Kaliya Franklin and other case studies are available for interview.

2. A high resolution version of the campaign photograph is available on request.

3. For more information, contact Rhydian Fôn James at or 07774021785, or Kaliya Franklin at 07714208602

4. Contribution-related Employment Support Allowance will be restricted to 365 days, meaning that a married claimant would be unable to claim after a year if their spouse works.

5. The Welfare Reform Bill confirms that Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by the Personal Independence Payment which will use unfair assessment and conditions to disqualify 20 per cent of the current DLA caseload.

There is no evidence that supports government’s claims that DLA is “broken” and in need of reform. In fact, most evidence suggests that DLA is an efficient and popular benefit, and this support includes the vast majority of the DWP’s own research.

The inclusion of this benefit change in the Welfare Reform Bill took place before the consultation on DLA reform was completed.

6. Other cuts to disability services not included in the Welfare Reform Bill are:

• Plans to remove security of tenure from social housing tenants, as costly adaptations are a barrier to moving regardless of size of property.
• Many changes to the provision, entitlement to and charges paid for receiving social care and disability services provided by local authorities.
• The Independent Living Fund which provided for the highest level support needs in combination with the local authorities is now to be scrapped without consultation.
• Access to Work reform redefines what it is "reasonable" to expect an employer to provide for disabled staff, meaning it is likely to push many currently employed disabled people out of work and back onto benefits.

7. Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty than any other group in the UK and more likely to be unemployed or in low paid jobs. 60% of those with a work-limiting disability are unemployed, with 25% wanting to work.

Creative Commons Licence
Left Out In The Cold by Kaliya Franklin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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