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Saturday, April 5, 2014

The DWP Jackboot

The DWP ministers have never expressed remorse for the welfare deaths and suicides of disabled people, and Esther McVey, who spewed venom at the disabled last Easter, should demonstrate contrition and be the first to condemn the brutal physical attack on Andrew Thorton, a mild-mannered young man with cerebral palsy and learning difficulties.

Yet she and her fellow DWP ministers remain silent, putting the Department's jackboot on our faces. The imprint of disability hate is ugly.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How To Challenge Your Benefit Sanction

Supported by

Public and Commercial Services Union

How to Challenge Your Benefit Sanction

The government have a deliberate policy of increasing sanctions to force people off benefits – hitting the most vulnerable hardest. More than 800,000 people have been sanctioned in the last year, often for petty reasons like being a few minutes late for an appointment. The main union for jobcentre workers, the Public and Commercial Services union, says political pressure is putting intolerable pressure on staff. The union says: ' the government’s stricter rules have led to target-like objectives being set for staff to sanction a certain number of claimants, regardless of their behaviour. This has often come with the threat of disciplinary action and is unfair on both staff and the people entitled to benefits who they are there to help.'
If we all challenge sanctions we can help make this vicious policy unworkable.
Challenging a sanction cannot negatively affect your benefit, and it might get you your money back.

There is a two stage procedure to challenge a sanction:-

  1. When you get the sanction notification letter from Jobcentre Plus, write back to the address on that letter stating that you want it reconsidered. If you wish, you can use form DR7 (available from your jobcentre). They MUST get your letter/form within one month of the date of their letter. You have to give your reason(s) for disagreeing with their decision, e.g. because it is unreasonable/unfair: see below. Keep a copy and get a free certificate of posting from the post office.

  1. Jobcentre Plus may ask you for more information, but must eventually send you their written decision, called a mandatory reconsideration notice. If you disagree with this decision, then you should appeal. To appeal you should use form SSCS1, available from your local CAB ( or you can complete and/or download and print it from the internet at . Your grounds for appeal are your reasons, and can be the same as you gave at stage (1), but you can add or substitute new reasons. Your appeal MUST reach the Appeals Centre within 1 month of the date of the mandatory reconsideration notice, and you must attach a copy of that notice to your appeal. Indicate on the form that you want to attend a hearing of your appeal (because claimants who attend are more likely to win): get advice as soon as you get the hearing date, if not before.

Your reasons for challenging decisions are basically common sense, e.g. -

  • The activity you were told to do or attend would not have helped you find a job – say why. (For example, if you were sanctioned for not attending an information session that you knew was identical to one you had already been to).

  • You were not given proper details of where you were supposed to be, or when you were supposed to be there.

  • You did not apply for a particular job because either you didn't meet its requirements, it was impossible to do that job due to childcare commitments, the job was over 90 minutes travel time away, or taking the job would actually have left you worse off.

  • List all the things you did to look for a job during the time they said you didn't do enough to look for work – check this list against your Job Seekers Agreement, which tells you what things you agreed to do every week.

  • If you have done the activities you normally do (and have no different instructions) you should mention this. If you have been doing the same things for weeks and this has been acceptable then they should have informed you of any new instructions; otherwise you have a strong case to say you are meeting the job-seeking requirements.

  • A “Job Seekers Direction” is a particular type of letter that the jobcentre might have given you. It basically means it is compulsory to attend whatever appointment it is telling you about. If you were sanctioned for not complying with a “Job Seekers Direction”, state that you should not have been given the Job Seekers Direction if any of the following apply to you:-
    • you were given it at your first appointment;
    • you had no history of missing appointments when it was given to you; or
    • you were given it by an adviser who did not know your circumstances.

  • If you were sanctioned for being a few minutes late for an appointment, say so and give the reasons you were late.

GET ADVICE if you miss the 1 month time limit.
When your JSA is sanctioned, the computers will stop your housing benefit and council tax support: you should reclaim these immediately at the Council Neighbourhood Office. You might be able to get, from Jobcentre Plus, hardship payments, which are paid at a lower rate than JSA: claim at the jobcentre.

We are here to give support, to give advice about dealing with Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme providers, and to pressure them and government into treating us better. We do this by working together. Join our support and information group:

TUESDAYS 10.00 am – 12.00 pm
The Employment Academy, Thames Reach
29 Peckham Road, London SE5 8UA
Or contact:,
Phone 07896 341964

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jeremy Hunt is trying to sneak through a law which will give him the power to quickly close any local hospital

Jeremy Hunt is trying to sneak through a law which will give him the power to quickly close any local hospital without listening to local people. No hospital is safe.

He’s changing the rules after losing twice in court trying to close Lewisham Hospital against the wishes of local people, doctors and nurses. The sweeping new law - the 'hospital closure clause' of the Care Bill - will give the government the power to shut down any hospital, in as little as 40 days, regardless of how well the hospital is performing. [1]

Jeremy Hunt is hell-bent on pushing this through. And time’s not on our side. It could be as little as one week before MPs vote this sinister threat into a reality.

If we’re going to have a chance of stopping Jeremy Hunt we need to throw the kitchen sink at this. And we need to move fast. Vote now to decide whether or not we should launch a big campaign. Yes or No?
Our NHS is precious. And it’s important that we know hospitals, accident and emergency and maternity services are there for us in moments of crisis and joy. It’s terrifying to imagine the government having the power to close any hospital without hearing the wishes of the local community.

It’s going to be tough to stop Jeremy Hunt. But we’ve done it before - twice in Lewisham alone. And if enough of us are keen, there are exciting possibilities for next steps. And new tactics we could try which would take even Jeremy Hunt by surprise!

The 38 Degrees staff team sit down on Monday morning to plan out the week ahead and decide on how we split up staff resources. The most important factor when making those decisions is what 38 Degrees members think.

Should trying to stop the hospital closure clause be 38 Degrees' top priority over the next few weeks? Please vote now to help decide whether to launch a big campaign by clicking on the buttons below.  

Thanks for being involved,

Becky, Ian, Rebecca, David and the rest of the 38 Degrees team

PS: A study of NHS foundation trusts in England has found the number of those in financial trouble has nearly doubled in a year from 21 to 39. Jeremy Hunt has shown before he’s willing to close good hospitals to bail out ones which are struggling - this law would allow him to do this, even if local patients and doctors were strongly against it. [3]

[1] What is the Hospital Closure Clause. Read more on our blog here:
[2] BBC News: Rise in NHS Foundation Trusts with deficit, says Monitor hospitals

38 Degrees is funded entirely by donations from thousands of members across the UK. Making a regular donation will mean 38 Degrees can stay independent and plan for future campaigns. Please will you chip in a few pounds a week?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

European Disability Forum Calls For Full Implementation Of The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities

Structural funds

Athens, 22 February 2014 | EDF Board meeting gathered together representatives from EDF member organisations around Europe. The first of the two days of the meeting opened with a European conference focusing on the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities and structural funds.

Opening the conference, the Greek Deputy Minister of Labour, Social Security and Welfare, V. Kegkeroglou, referred to the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by Greece and the real challenges in its implementation. V. Kegkeroglou underlined that citizens with disabilities must fully enjoy their rights at equal basis as all the other citizens, in all areas of life: employment, access to information etc.

On behalf of the Greek National Confederation of Disabled People, its Vice-President, Thomas Kleisiotis, talked about the fights of the Greek disability movement to protect the families of persons with disabilities from the crisis and the austerity measures.

EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis, highlighted the importance of 2014 for the European Union and its member states, as the upcoming EU elections will reform the synthesis of the European institutions. “These elections are not just a typical procedure but an essential one and their result will have an important impact on each Member State of the EU”, said Yannis Vardakastanis calling on EDF member organisations to use EDF manifesto to campaign at national level for the key priorities of the disability movement.

The Head of Unit, Inclusive Growth, Urban and Territorial Development of the European Commission, Wladyslaw Piskorzm, highlighted the important contribution of EDF to the European Commission’s work. He ensured that the European Commission is revising the partnership agreements from the countries paying attention that they include measures for persons with disabilities.

Lila Sylviti
European Disability Forum | nothing about us without ustel +32 2 282 46 04 | fax +32 2 282 46 09 -

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Friday, February 14, 2014

CCDS seminar: G. Thomas Couser - Narrating Disability Inside and Outside the Clinic

Narrating Disability Inside and Outside the Clinic: Or, Beyond Empathy

Prof. G. Thomas Couser

Date: Wednesday 12 March, 2014
Time: 2.15pm–3.45pm
Place: Eden 109, Liverpool Hope University, UK

The persistent devaluing of the lives of disabled persons, as periodically
manifested in news accounts of abuse and neglect, underscores the value of
disability life writing. Outside the clinic, disability memoirs have become
surprisingly popular; indeed, at least in the USA, their proliferation has
helped to spur the memoir boom. But the voices of disabled people especially
need to be heard and reckoned with in medical schools, to complement and
counterbalance the medical paradigm. It is not enough for medical personnel
to empathize, or attempt to identify, with disabled patients, however; in
order to fully serve the needs of their patients, they need to make
cognitive—rather than affective—adjustments. Functioning as what Prof.
Couser calls “quality-of-life writing,” disability narrative can play a
major role in the reorientation of medical professionals.

G. Thomas Couser retired in 2011 from Hofstra University, where he was a
professor of English and founding director of the Disability Studies
Program. His books include Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability, and Life
Writing (1997), Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing (2004),
Signifying Bodies: Disability in Contemporary Life Writing (2009), and
Memoir: An Introduction (2012).

This seminar is part of the new CCDS series, The Voice of Disability. Other
dates include:

21st May, The Reality and Rhetoric of Pupil Voice: Exploring the Educational
Journeys of Young People Labelled with Behavioural, Emotional, and Social
Difficulties, Marie Caslin.

25th June, Young DaDa: Evaluating Participation in the Arts, Claire Penketh.

For further information please contact:

Dr David Bolt

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Letter to Atos North America and the Organizers of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

Teddy Katz
Director, Media Relations and Chief Spokesperson, TO2015

Florence Vayleux
Communications, Atos North America

Subject:  Atos Joins TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games as Newest Premier Partner

Dear Mr. Katz and Ms. Vayleux,

I am a 57-year-old Disability Studies specialist and disability activist from Montreal, Canada who has been reporting frequently and voluntarily, since January 2012, to senior United Nations officials. (See attached, and ) on the welfare crisis for the United Kingdom's sick and disabled. Austerity measures, consisting of draconian welfare reforms and "sham" means-testing (Atos Healthcare U.K. and the Department for Work and Pensions) are ostensibly to blame for their plight—with disability hate crime and inflammatory media attacks factored into this mix.

Just a short note to inform you that I intend to vociferously protest Atos joining the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games as its newest Premier Partner.

I will be compiling a massive bibliography of materials pertaining to the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) in UK, which is exclusively carried out by Atos Healthcare UK. This bibliography will, by virtue of its critical content, effectively deplore the immense suffering and hardship of sick and disabled Britons who have been deprived of benefits, made penniless, and even driven to suicide by Atos Healthcare UK and its sham assessments. In addition, I will be including articles on the London 2012 protests against Paralympic sponsor Atos, and the current opposition to Atos sponsoring the 2014 Commonwealth Games—in an effort to sway the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games organizers to contract with an IT company other than Atos.

These materials will be mailed to Toronto and Canadian government officials; major Canadian newspapers, radio and television companies; disabled persons organizations in Canada; and, of course, the organizers of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games themselves.

Here's just a small sample of the materials that I have already compiled:

I look forward to any comments that you might have regarding this matter, and will carefully consider any arguments to dissuade me from my intended course of action. Please keep in mind that I do report voluntarily to the UN's human rights office, in Geneva, who are currently investigating Britain's welfare reforms, including the  Work Capability Assessments carried out by Atos Healthcare UK. (See,, and

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Best wishes.

Samuel Miller

Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)