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Saturday, October 15, 2016

My Letter To Iain Duncan Smith

Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr. Duncan Smith,

You have stated that you resigned from cabinet over George Osborne's disability cuts, among other reasons. Bank of England's Governor Mark Carney is now warning that life will "get difficult" for the most vulnerable people in Britain as inflation rises in the coming months due to the sharp depreciation of sterling in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The Department for Work and Pensions says that it is scraping retesting for people with severe, lifelong conditions at the same time that there has been a sharp drop in Support Group awards and a sharp increase in people placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). Charities report that 45% of people who put in a claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), and had Parkinson’s, Cystic Fibrosis, Multiple Sclerosis, or Rheumatoid Arthritis, were placed in the WRAG. 

Unless rescinded, from April 2017, anyone put in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA) will receive the same benefit rate as jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), a loss of £30 a week. They will surely struggle to survive.
I would be most grateful if you would advise Work and Pensions secretary, Damian Green, and Chancellor Philip Hammond *not* to proceed with Osborne's life-threatening ESA WRAG cuts. A public statement against these pernicious cuts would also be appreciated.
Thanking you in advance for your assistance.

Samuel Miller

Friday, September 23, 2016

‘Regressing’ UK Government Fails To Meet 81 of 85 UN Human Rights Recommendations; Note from Samuel

Recommendations on the UK’s human rights record have not been implemented since 2012, a new report from the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) has said.
The BIHR’s analysis shows that the UK government has failed to fully meet 81 out of 85 recommendations made by the United Nations (UN) in 2012 to improve domestic human rights protections.
Areas covered include poverty, welfare and adequate standard of living, about which the BIHR warned: “Recent policy and legislative changes have seen a regression in standards of living and the welfare system’s ability to tackle poverty, homelessness and worklessness. This is having a negative impact on vulnerable social groups.”
The report said that the Welfare Reform Act 2012 will have a negative effect on vulnerable groups, including 100,000 disabled children losing up to £28 a week and up to 20% of families affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ being unable to pay the higher rate of rent.
Other welfare reforms which the report highlights include the household benefit cap, which the Supreme Court has ruled violates the UN Human Rights Convention, and the increased use of benefit sanctions, which it says have been linked to destitution and not proven to encourage people back into work.
It warned that new measures introduced by the government also fall short of helping the most vulnerable.
The national living wage, for example, does not apply to under-25s and is not set in accordance with recommendations from the Living Wage Foundation.
The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 raises concerns for freezing working-age benefits for four years from April 2017, removing child tax credit entitlement for families of more than three children, and abolishing the Child Poverty Act 2010, which mandates statutory targets on child poverty.
The report also highlighted the housing crisis and rising homelessness rates as a human rights concern.
By 2031, England will have 2.5 million fewer homes than needed. Almost 30% of private sector tenants are in substandard housing, and there has been a 30% increase in homelessness in the past year.

Major recommendations

The BIHR said the UK government should monitor and review the impact of welfare reforms on living standards, pause and review its sanctioning policy, abolish the bedroom tax, and adjust the rate of the living wage.
In addition, the report said it was “vital” that the government abandons plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights and instead strengthens existing human rights protections.
It called on the government to ensure the UK’s exit from the European Union does not have a negative effect on human rights, and to allow devolved administrations to report on how they are dealing with human rights issues.
Other areas of concern raised by the report include violence against women and girls, with funding for women’s shelters facing 31% cuts, dangerous conditions in prisons and increasing hate crime reports.
Stephen Bowen, chief executive of BIHR, said: “The UK Government needs to listen, not just to the United Nations but to the voices of the huge range of organisations closer to home that have shared their serious concerns with the British Institute of Human Rights.
“They are troubled the Government is taking the UK towards further isolationism and disregarding the United Nations, worsening the situation with welfare and legal aid cuts, and wanting to scrap the Human Rights Act, weakening its accountability for our rights at home as well as internationally.”
The report is based on evidence from 175 civil society organisations, including Age UK, Unison and the End Violence Against Women Coalition.
But a government spokesperson said: “The UK is a confident, strong and dependable partner internationally – true to the universal values shared by the United Nations.
“As a nation we continue to fully comply to our international human rights obligations and we continue to take action to tackle any abuse of these rights. This includes working together with the UN to adapt a global response to mass migration and reducing the threat from international terrorism, stamping out modern slavery, championing the rights of women and girls and abhorring sexual violence in conflict.”

Note from Samuel: Please read My Disability Studies Blackboard: The UNCRPD is legally unenforceable; Iain Duncan Smith will be let off the hook by the UN; in particular, the last paragraph:

 A verdict of guilty would embarrass the British government on the world stage, but the UN treaty repercussions would be relatively minor. I am therefore recommending that a human rights lawsuit be filed against the DWP in conjunction with a UN CRPD "grave and systematic" violations finding.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Did Justin Tomlinson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People, mislead Daniel Zeichner, Shadow Minister for Transport, to spare himself and the DWP political embarrassment?

Please read: Personal Independence Payment: Motability: 25 Feb 2016: Hansard Written Answers - TheyWorkForYou

Daniel Zeichner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many disabled people have had their Mobility Scheme vehicle taken away as a result of personal independence payment replacing disability living allowance?

The date of Justin Tomlinson's written response is February 25, 2016; and he claims that the DWP does not hold this information. Yet, on February 3, 2016, the BBC reported that: Nearly 14,000 disabled people have mobility cars taken away - BBC News

It is reasonable to assume that Mr. Tomlinson knew this figure, but wished to spare himself and the DWP political embarrassment.

Of the nearly 14,000 disabled people who have had their mobility cars taken away, only 8,000 have received a £2,000 grant. This is based on the Motability figure of £16m, quoted in the BBC article.

There is a urgent need for a Parliamentary debate on the nearly 14,000 disabled people have had their mobility cars taken away. It's a deplorable situation and a grave and systematic violation of their human rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Up to 200 disabled people every week are losing their Motability vehicles, their jobs and independence, after being assessed for the government’s new disability benefit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), yet there has been scant attention paid to their predicament by the mainstream British media.