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  • Aug.21.2018: 'I never feel safe': meet the people at the very sharpest end of the housing crisis - disabled millennials. Finding decent accommodation is hard enough for ‘generation rent’ millennials – but for young disabled people a nightmare shortage of accessible housing is ruining lives and career prospects. If you are a disabled millennial, the task isn’t to find affordable, secure housing, but often to find any home at all. Overall, there are 1.8 million disabled people struggling to find accessible housing, according to research by the London School of Economics (LSE) for the charity Papworth Trust in 2016, with young disabled people looking for their first home facing a particularly tough climate. The Equality and Human Rights Commission recently warned of the “nightmare” shortage of private rental housing suitable for disabled people, with 93% of 8.5m rental properties in the UK found to be inaccessible. Frances Ryan, The Guardian.
  • May.14.2018: Disability benefit assessors trouser £50 rewards for squeezing extra tests into their day. MPs launched a probe tonight into the leaked Atos policy which they fear is an “incentive to ride roughshod over claimants”. Disability benefit assessors have trousered £50 rewards for squeezing extra sessions into their day, a leaked letter reveals. The powerful Commons Work and Pensions Committee launched a probe into the policy tonight after being shown the letter by the Mirror. Atos staff assess 4 people per day for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which gives disabled people up to £141 a week. But the outsourcing giant wrote to its health professionals in May.2017 offering £50 for every test they ran beyond 4. Frank Field wrote to Atos demanding to know whether the policy was genuine, how widespread it was, and how Atos polices the quality of tests. more Dan Bloom, The Mirror.
  • Feb.09.2018: 'Substantial minority' of disability claimants failed by system – MPs. A report by the work and pensions select committee highlighted a person with Down’s syndrome asked when they “caught” it, a woman reporting frequent suicidal thoughts asked why she had not yet killed herself, and someone whose assessment said she walked a dog daily, when she can barely walk and does not own a dog. The MPs will next week publish the full findings of their investigation into the Personal Independence Payment (Pip) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) systems. The two benefits support disabled people and those with long-term health conditions. The report listed testimony of what some claimants said were “fundamental errors” made by assessors. One woman wrote that her assessor reported that she got up from a chair without difficulty. She told the committee: “I was in bed the whole time (she let herself in) and I only have the one chair in the room, and she was sitting in it.” The committee noted that when people took the appeals process to a tribunal, the majority succeeded: since 2013, of 170,000 Pip appeals taken to tribunal, 63% have won, while 60% of the 53,000 ESA appeals have been successful. The DWP said it was “disappointing that this report uses a number of anonymous claims that we are unable to investigate”. Peter Walker, The Guardian.
  • Jan.18.2018: In the Expectation of Recovery. Misleading Medical Research and Welfare Reform. Biopsychosocial model flawed; in 2006 the DWP funded the Chronic fatigue syndrome treatment § PACEWikipedia-W.svg trial on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), aka myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Results were published in 2011, govt has used the model+theories wrt benefits and welfare reform. Alas, deeply flawed. Campaigners demand full trial results be published, already clear the results were manipulated. Some of those involved are closely connected to private insurance companies, such as Unum, which is lobbying govt to promote private health insurance, instead of our public social security system. George Faulkner, Centre for Welfare Reform.
  • Jun.07.2016: PIP is a disaster for disabled people. At last the full horror is emerging. When does reform become dangerous? Over three years ago the Conservatives began to roll out Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – in essence, the mandatory, mass re-testing of disabled and chronically ill people – and the answer is getting stark. A report released today by Muscular Dystrophy UK is the latest piece of evidence to expose an administrative catastrophe: appointments cancelled at the last minute, lost applications, year-long delays. Two in five respondents report being sent to an assessment centre that wasn’t accessible for disabled people. That’s in order to be tested for a disability benefit. Make it inside the building and the picture is as dire: widespread reports of assessors – employed by private firms hired by the Department for Work & Pensions – who showed no respect for disabled people, while some didn’t even understand the condition they were testing (one man, with muscular dystrophy, pointed out that the word “progressive” means “muscles don’t come back”). That the govt deliberately built PIP with tightened criteria – and is sitting by as the system descends into disarray – becomes grimmer still when you consider that this is being done to a benefit tied to other essential disability services. Without PIP a disabled person can’t access anything from carer’s allowance to severe disability premium. If that isn’t enough, anyone who is rejected – or bumped down to the standard rate – is also barred from the Motability scheme for an accessible car or powered wheelchair. Will this be making many headlines? It took the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith and a budget hole of £billions to get the mainstream media to shine a light on the disaster of PIP – or many politicians to find a conscience. One cut to the benefit is stopped. A new secretary of state is hired. And the news cycle moves on. The disabled can’t. For many, things are only getting worse. Frances Ryan, The Guardian.
  • Mar.21.2016: Disability benefits U-turn leaves Cameron with £4.4bn to find. David Cameron has been forced to concede that a £4.4bn black hole created by the U-turn over disability benefits will not be filled by further cuts to welfare as he fought to shore up his credibility following the shock resignation of Iain Duncan Smith. The spending climbdown was announced on Monday by Stephen Crabb, the new work and pensions secretary, an hour after Cameron addressed the political crisis engulfing the Conservative party by offering his support to "his friend" George Osborne. In the debate on the budget that followed Cameron’s remarks, Crabb said his department would drop controversial reforms to personal independence payments (PIP), a disability benefit, adding: “We have no further plans to make welfare savings beyond the very substantial savings legislated for by parliament two weeks ago”. The Tory MP Karen Lumley released a letter that she and colleagues had sent to Osborne before the budget claiming the PIP cuts gave the impression of a “sustained attack on disabled benefits by the government” and could cause long-term damage to its reputation. Anushka Asthana, Rowena Mason, The Guardian.
  • Mar.19.2016: Iain Duncan Smith was being asked to make more cuts for the working poor. It was morally indefensible. Much of the former work and pension secretary’s exasperation was directed against George Osborne’s highly political approach to welfare reform. The resignation of Iain Duncan Smith was entirely about the balance of the Welfare budget. This dates back to the way that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown chose to try to take over and run Whitehall. David Cameron and Osborne fell all too naturally into the same way of working. It is characterised by a highly political and tactical leadership, resulting in big decisions about spending and policy being made for short-term political advantage. This Brownite “govt for show” has undermined crucial policies, from energy security and European Union policy on Turkey, to defence and welfare reform. IDS’s headache was that the Treasury always demanded big spending reductions from the biggest spending department, while insisting that he protects pensioner benefits for the better off as a political priority. more Bernard Jenkin, The Guardian.
  • Feb.19.2013: Getting rich on disability denial. When the Tory Work and Pensions undersecretary Lord David Freud set out his vision of Welfare reform for disabled people he used a number of references to back up his plans. No fewer than 170 of these references came from a group of academics based at, or connected to, Cardiff University’s Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research. This centre, originally led by the ex‑chief medical officer at the Department for Work & Pensions, Sir Mansel Alyward, was funded by the US-based insurance giant Unum to the tune of £1.6m from 2004 – 2009. The objective was to add academic credibility to the "biopsychosocial model" that has underpinned disability benefits reform since the early 1990s – a model used as part of the govt's disability benefits crackdown by the private company Atos in identifying who is deemed to be ‘fit for work’ and hence ineligible for disability support. The biopsychosocial model posits that disability – and the ability to work in particular – is not just a medically definable, physical matter but one that also has a social and psychological dimension. And it is used to underpin the assertion that to a very large extent the growth in the cost of disability benefits must surely be the result of people faking those disabilities. Debbie Jolly, Red Pepper.