EXCLUSIVE #Disability Discrimination means Son is removed from Home?

The following true tale is the introduction into what will be a series of posts regarding a seeming miscarriage of justice and potential disability discrimination; names have been changed to protect the identities of these involved. The purpose of this post is to help the family concerned achieve real justice; please share as widely as possible.

Alison is a single parent of14 year old Adam, both live with various diagnosed and pending diagnosis health disorders including Fibromyalgia and Elhers Danos; Alison is also Autistic and symptoms suggest Adam is as well.

Due to Adams health, he found it difficult to cope with school from the beginning and despite special educational needs intervention, including one to one lessons he struggled experiencing bullying which resulted in him developing depression. These experiences became worse during Adams transition from junior to senior school, so much so that in 2015, Alison began to home educate him. Utilising her qualifications in Advanced Sports Therapy, Holistic Therapies and counselling, Alison along with other professional devised and delivered a programme of education with a wide variety of skills and healthy activities. This proved very successful wih two reviews from the LEA and feedback from the young carers project Adam attended, resulting in him showing a general improvement in mental capacity, attitude and general happiness.

However despite the improvements in Adams education and development the local social services were unhappy and persuaded Alison to undertake a psychological assessment. This transpired to be 4 and ½ hours of Rorschach testing and a further 3 hours of probing of her medical history, during which time Alison without an advocate, perhaps understandably became extremely agitated. The findings of this assessment, which interestingly Alison’s own GP deemed totally unnecessary, was Alison being regarded as having Somatic Syndrome Disorder and thus influencing Adam into thinking he has medical conditions.  The findings despite an array of medical, educational and other evidence to the contrary, was then used by social services to go to court, the outcome being Alison was found to be unable to care for her son and Adam was removed from home and taken into care.

The court when considering Adams future, refused to consider the historical  and educational evidence of Adams physical and psychological health and relied entirely upon Alisons psychological assessment. The miscarriage of justice transpired therein as it appears that the psychological assessor determined: Alisons willingness and ability to research the most appropriate consultants for her sons health, indicates she is only willing to work with selected professionals; further it seems Alisons knowledge that her personal diagnoses of autism and elher danos both have a genetic pre-disposition to health issues, was considered by the assessor as a desire to transpose these onto Adam.

Further the court found that Adam should be taken into care permanently and that contact with his mother would only be regulated once Alison shows no further concern for the health of her son.

The second post will follow soon.

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Tell Your MP No More #Disability CUTS

A new Early Day Motion is tabled in Parliament  asking the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S.I., 2017, No. 194), dated 22 February 2017, a copy of which was laid before this House on 23 February, be annulled.

What this means is the more MPs signing this appeal, the more chance the latest Cuts will be halted, and has already been proven they are NOT necessary, just a means to assist “cut the deficit

We already know disabled people have had their money sacrificed on the Austerity alter far more than any other group, and if you agree its time our MPs stood up for us Parliament contact them TODAY and tell them to support EDM 985 – Annul  New PIP Regs http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2016-17/985

Tweet  URGENT Send to MP support EDM 985 – Annul New PIP Regs NO MORE CUTS

penny-mourdant

 

PIP – Permanently Irritation Persecution?

Recent experience leads me to ask the question what does is PIP – Personal Independence Payment OR Permanently Irritation Persecution?

In February  I wrote about how following the DWP rules resulted in my health deteriorating, since then it has been one thing after another. The report from Capita following this assessment  was dire, therefore it was back into the Mandatory Reconsideration process once again, and duly into the request for Tribunal.

I duly received my date for tribunal on May 26th and whilst preparing myself to attend at 10.00 am that morning I had a call from the court telling me the panel had adjourned the event as they wanted further information from my GP. This stunned me and I was left dealing with the vast amount of adrenalin coursing through my body, but I tried to focus on how this delay might well be a positive thing.

In regular circumstances I should have heard nothing more until the information had been accessed and the new date set; however this is the DWP we’re dealing with. Last Saturday (and I’m becoming convinced all of these letters are posted to arrive at the weekend), I received a letter from Capita stating as a result of my recent application for PIP I needed to arrange an assessment!! Yesterday whilst I was at my mums, my partner phoned the DWP and eventually was told this new assessment had been requested by the tribunal; he also called Capita who arranged for the assessment to be next Monday 13/6/16 .

Today I received a form from the tribunal  requesting my permission for them to contact my GP, so I called them to ask about the assessment request; only to be informed by the court they had not, nor could they, request another assessment!

I immediately phoned the DWP and after repeating the information to told my partner, was informed by this call centre person (Colin) they could not understand why he’d  been told this, and as far as Colin could see a new case (claim) had been opened on 25/5/16 and this was the reason for the assessment?!  After informing Colin of my Capita appointment he agreed to email the case manager for an urgent call back.

This is just another episode in the ongoing saga of my PIP claim; this causes me to question if the competence levels of the DWP are diminishing ever lower or is PIP merely another way for those in Government to further persecute the sickest members of society? What I do know is this seemingly endless torment is seriously screwing me up.

 

Mental Health – Talk or Stay Silent?

Also at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jayne-linney/mental-health-talk-or-stay-silent_b_9416632.html

Today Mind have launched their “Take Off The Tape” Campaign which focusses on Anxiety; their website states “Do you talk about what’s most worrying you? Or do you keep your mouth shut about things that make you anxious?… Stop being silenced by your anxiety“.

Whilst as a mental health sufferer and counsellor  I welcome this recognition of the dangers and devastation of living with poor mental health, and can understand how talking openly about their anxieties and concerns might be of some help in some cases. The relief of ‘getting things of your chest’ can help you feel lighter and may for  while,help with the symptoms but faced with a personal trigger and you’re right back where you were, because talking does not help deal with the cause of your mental health.

Mental Health is currently being widely acknowledged, from the media to government  as a real problem, This may have something to do with the growing numbers of people experiencing poor mental health, this rise is being witnessed in children, employees, new mums and the Armed forces, to name just a few of the recognised groups , but whatever the reason, most reports concur the rise is down to  cuts to services and the pressures of the Austerity agenda; even the Governments ‘pledge’ for a revolution in mental health treatment and the accompanying investment in services,  accepts poor Mental Health is to do with poverty.

Living in Poverty from the real fears of not being able to manage financially to the social isolation it causes is extremely stressful, and excessive stress is an established trigger for depression (i). Add to this ill health, another one of the biggest causes of stress , and you regularly have a situation for mental melt down; and we at DEAEP are seeing numerous examples of this. People are coming to us trapped in this viscous cycle of poverty & depression, most of them are experiencing benefit cuts and are being offered no option other surviving with less than they need; and in the most extreme cases or being institutionalised. Is it any wonder these people are finding themselves experiencing extreme pain, exasperation of existing conditions and Mental Health problems?

What I find most disconcerting, is whilst mental health as a health issue, is experiencing the benefits of publicity and recognition;what is less acknowledged is the associated rise in penalisation of those of us with poor mental health. We are at a much higher risk of being detained against our will, with a 9.8% increase, almost Double the figures for 1013/14,  of people being detained under the Mental Health Act; We are more likely to be sanctioned if we claim benefits with a 600% rise over the past four years, and whilst 6,122 of us over the age of 10 committed suicide in 2014, the rates for both women and men outside of  institutions rose.  Given this it seems we’re equally damned if we do admit our vulnerabilities and Talk.

 

 

 

i Makosky, V. P. (1982) ‘Sources of stress: Events or conditions? ‘ In: D. Belle (ed.) Lives in stress: Women and Depression, pp. 35–53. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage

DWP again refuses to release data on disability benefits….

From The Independent –   Are the Media finally catching up?

The Department for Work and Pensions has again refused to release data about the impact of changes to the disability benefit system after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Last week the DWP was forced to reveal how many people had died shortly after being found fit to work by disability tests.

Ministers and officials had resisted the demand for months and only accepted it after a warning from the Information Commissioner and a campaign that went all the way to Parliament.

But on Tuesday DWP officials refused another request for basic information about disability benefits using the same “Section 22” exemption they had tried to use before.

The Department had been asked under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose how many Disability Living Allowance claimants had been made worse off after being moved onto the new Personal Independence Payment benefit.

The Department refused the request, made by a user of the WhatDoTheyKnow website, a tool which helps people scrutinise the Government’s record.

Some claimants have lost out from the move from DLA to PIP. The reason given for rejecting the request is the same as that given in the case of the death statistics – under section 22 of the Act, data which officials say is reserved for future publication can be blocked from release.

The Department also previously stalled on responding to the request based on the fact that the person who made it had initially used a pseudonym.

The civil servant who answered the reply ultimately said that thought there was a public interest in the data being released, they should be allowed to publish it “in a manner of form and at a time of their own choosing”.

“I can confirm that the Department holds the information you are seeking. However, Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this information from disclosure. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date,” the Department said in its reply.

“This exemption requires the public interest for and against disclosure to be weighed in the balance. There is a public interest in information being released as soon as possible. However, I am satisfied that there is a strong public interest in permitting public authorities to publish information in a manner and form and at a time of their own choosing.”

Disabled people are being transitioned by the Government from the Disability Living Allowance benefit to its placement, the Personal Independence Payment. Some people lose out from this change because of the new way in which the PIP is calculated.

One person affected by a payment cut, Jane, wrote in her blog about the difficulties the changes had made for her and criticised the DWP’s lack of transparency.

“I have found myself so behind with bill payments, I now am past ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and am at the bailiffs knocking on the door stage,” she said.

“Once again the DWP hide behind Section 22, but fail to indicate when these figures are to be produced; could this be because the data once revealed, will show another proven case of how the Welfare Reform Act is persistently failing disabled people?”

In the case of the benefit death figures, the Information Commissioner said the Government had no good reason to withhold the stats under Section 22

Mr Duncan Smith at one point caused confusion when he told Labour MP Debbie Abraham in Parliament that the stats did not exist.

“She knows very well that the department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance,” he told her in Parliament.

The block comes after ministers announced a crackdown on the Freedom of Information Act, which Justice Secretary Michael Gove needed to be “revisited”.

Civil servants have long complained that disclosing information can be time-consuming and costly, and that ministers and officials should be allowed to discuss things in secret without the public knowing.

Campaigns say any attempt to water down the act would make it more difficult to hold the Government to account when things go wrong.

More disability benefit data refused for release by DWP.

Back in January I wrote about how my transition from DLA to PIP lost me £140 per month, and in March I posted about the saga I had with my Mandatory Reconsideration; both of these pieces demonstrated precisely what this loss meant to me in real terms. Since then I have found myself so behind with bill payments, I now am past ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and am at the bailiffs knocking on the door stage.

The reason for raising this is, today a FOI request asking  ‘The percentage of current DLA claimants, who, on conversion to PiP, were reduced in their claims’…was answered by the DWP. Unsurprisingly their response was “I can confirm that the Department holds the information you are seeking. However, Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this information from disclosure. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date.

Once again the DWP hide behind Section 22, but fail to indicate WHEN these figures are to be produced; could this be because the data once revealed, will show another proven case of how the Welfare Reform Act is persistently failing disabled people?

The recent outcome of the 18 month long fight by Mike Sivier confirmed that “10,000 people lost their lives” after being determined they were well enough to be placed in the Work Related Activity Group! Will this latest refusal for information, demonstrate yet a further number of disabled people, who although surviving, being adversely affected by the decisions of civil servants

We were warned back in 2012, by the then Minister for disabled people Esther McVey that, “more than 300,000 disabled people will have their benefits cut” under the transition from DLA to PIP, are the DWP refusing to release this data, because this figure is already much higher?

Government #Disablism Discrimination in Action

This week a woman not known for her timidity, admitted how a non-disabled man had used his presence and the environment to disempower her; I’m referring to Dame Anne Begg and the she interview gave to the BBC. In the Daily Record Dame Anne is quoted as saying “Iain Duncan Smith took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair…Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.’” Dame Anne also was recorded as having explaining how “she would normally reproach people who invaded her personal space but she let him off“.

This is an excellent example of how competent, intelligent, and independent disabled people not only experience prejudice – as people either knowingly or subconsciously, use their bodies, words or actions to oppress us; but how this actively exasperates and diminishes us.

It is no coincidence I use this example with IDS being the perpetrator, as it is again his department, the DWP, I am discussing today. In November last year I introduced you to Burt, who with our support at DEAEP was transferred from WRAG to the support group last December; since then Burt has received up to three letters a month plus texts reminding him of his “Back to Work” appointments! Each month Burt has responded to each letter with a phone call saying “but I’m in the Support Group”, he has received an apology and a promise to rectify this from each call; yet it has continued.

Burt is a former career soldier who fought in wars all over the world, until being retired out with a crushed spine and severe PTSD, amongst other conditions, all contracted during his service.  He isn’t a naturally timid man, he loved his Army life and willingly gave everything to “Queen & Country”, as his service record and the plethora of photographs and awards proudly displayed in his lounge demonstrate; and yet the persistent harassment he has experienced from the DWP in the past 2 years has left him joyless, feeling without purpose and literally unable to complain.

As Dame Anne alluded to regarding IDS, his actions which amount to bullying in my opinion, makes it difficult if not impossible to positively challenge the perpetrator(s); and this is the situation Burt is in. Personally I can totally relate to this, and would suggest many readers and other claimants can also. It is these dismissive attitudes and continuous intimidation by the DWP that creates the ‘Brown envelope Syndrome’, so well recognised by those of us unfortunate enough to claim benefits; it is also this oppression, and misuse of positions of power, that has contributed to the deaths of many us.

How much worse this is going to get following the closure of ILF and a budget, which I believe initiates the removal of WRAG? Being forced to deal with increasing poverty is physically and psychologically damaging enough without having to deal with this prejudice and discrimination from the DWP.

I find this particularly ironic that jobseekers (presumably including those who would have been placed in WRAG)  are being mandated to participate in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which claims to Stop negative thought cycles; I can’t help but think IDS, his ministers and the staff at DWP would benefit far more from CBT than claimants?