Monday, 16 January 2012

Lord Freud's Letter to Peers re Spartacus Report and our Response

    Today, Lord Freud has written to peers with a response to the Responsible Reform (Spartacus) report. This is the full letter, and our response to his claims :
    16th January 2012
      Dear Colleague.
      I  understand that you may have received a report recently entitled 'Responsible Reform' by Dr S J Campbell and other disability representatives. I believe this report grossly misrepresents the way the DWP has been conducting disability reform thus far, and I would like to briefly explain how the report's criticisms are misplaced and misleading. The reform of DLA is long overdue, and I am determined to improve the system of state support for disabled people and have made it a personal priority that this is achieved in an open, consultative manner. 
I think we all agree that the reform of DLA is overdue, we just disagree that PIP is the right reform 
Responsible Reform suggests that the consultation period, following the publication of the 'Disability Living Allowance reform' consultation document, was insufficient. The Government's Code of Practice on Consultation recommends a minimum 12-week consultation period for public consultations, unless there are good reasons for a limited consultation period. The formal public consultation on DLA reform ran from 6 December 2010 and closed on 18 February 2011. While we fully aspire to the code's recommendations, we felt a 10 week period was adequate, given that the consultation was limited to general principles only, was preceded by extensive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders and disabled people and will be followed by further extensive consultation on the detailed proposals.  
The consultation asked specific questions that would affect the lives of disabled people, it was not "limited to general principles only." This letter does not explain in any way why the consultation period was shorter than recommended under the Code of Practise on Consultation. If anything, respondents felt the period should have been longer than 12 weeks as a "reasonable adjustment" to those disabled people who needed extra help or support to participate.  
As outlined in the 'Disability Living Allowance Reform' public consultation document, the Welfare Reform Bill sets out the high-level legal framework of powers underpinning the new benefit. The detailed requirements will be set out in secondary legislation. I am committed to further consult on how we use these powers, and it is my intention to consult fully on the secondary legislation where the rules for Personal Independence Payment will be different to those currently applying to Disability Living Allowance. This consultation will build on the earlier one.
As the previous consultation took no account whatever of the opinions of sick and disabled respondents, we have no reason to believe that future ones will be any more transparent. We remain very concerned that legislations will be passed without these "detailed requirements" and call for a pause to PIP until it is clear exactly how it will affects us. 
      Responsible Reform further suggests that we did not take into account responses we received to that first consultation. I completely reject this. Can I make it clear; this report has only considered 10% of the responses we received and only those from organisations. All consultation responses, over 5,000 individual submissions, have been thoroughly and appropriately considered in the Government's analysis and have been used to inform the design of the new benefit and supporting processes.  
          The Government received 5,500 responses to the consultation. Of these :
      • 500 were from groups representing millions of sick and disabled people throughout the UK. 
      • 2,500 were template letters. We reject the idea that people sent template letters to the Government just to congratulate them and argue that these will almost certainly show some concern over the proposals in 100% of cases. 
      • Given the overwhelming opposition to the plans for PIP expressed by the 523 groups who responded (national charities, local authorities, local charities and disabled people's organisations) representing millions of disabled members, it would be remarkable if the 2,500 individual responses were entirely in support. However, we have put in a further FOI request for all 5,000 of the remaining responses - information that we would anyway, expect Lord Freud to make public in support of Lord Freud's claim that "All consultation responses, over 5,000 individual submissions, have been thoroughly and appropriately considered in the Government's analysis and have been used to inform the design of the new benefit and supporting processes."
          The reform process for DLA/PIP remains open, consultative and with a real focus on co-production at all key stages. We have worked with disabled people and disability organisations and continue to do so; my Ministerial colleagues, Departmental officials, and I meet with them on a regular basis. We consulted informally with disabled people and disability organisations in advance of the formal public consultation, and we have developed the assessment process for the new benefit with an independent group of specialists in health, social care and disability, as well as some disabled people.  
      "Meeting" does not confirm co-operation or engagement. In our experience, disabled people and their organisations are increasingly frustrated that their opinions are ignored. In particular, whilst some form of assessment is supported, we can find no support at all for the ESA-style assessment proposed by the Government.
      This has not been a passive relationship. The comments, input, advice and guidance has led to changes to both the assessment criteria and the overall policy, most notably that we will not remove the mobility component of both DLA and Personal Independence Payment in residential care homes. 
      An enormous coalition of disabled people their organisations and major charities are saying that they DO feel this has been a passive process. There are many, many elements of the welfare reform bill that we are all warning will cause real hardship. Removing the mobility component of DLA from those in residential care homes is just one proposal that would have been unworkable and discriminatory. There are many more and the Government have refused to consider alternative proposals. The assessment criteria remain a cause for deep concern across the disabled community and are still far from workable.  
          The Department has also established the Personal Independence Payment Implementation Development Group, which meets regularly and involves over 50 organisations of and for disabled people. This dialogue is crucial as we design and develop delivery arrangements. The Department has also adopted the principles of user-centred design for Personal Independence Payment that places customers at the heart of the design process to ensure their needs are reflected in the way policies are delivered.  
      This response does not address any of the serious concerns raised by the Responsible Reform report. (Spartacus Report) That this letter fails to comment on the use of misleading statistics to justify reform, fails to comment on the repeated warnings that proposals for PIP may breach international and UK equality laws, and fails to understand what is leading to the growth in DLA caseloads is of great concern. They still do not explain where or how they decided to cut 20% from the DLA budget or look at the impact that this will have on disabled people. 

      It is what Lord Freud does NOT address in this letter that we believe ought to give peers the greatest cause for concern.  
      My Ministerial colleagues and I are personally committed to making Personal Independence Payment an effective, efficient benefit that targets support where it can help those facing the largest challenges in leading an independent life. It is in everybody's interest to make sure that disabled people and their representatives are involved as we design a solution that achieves those goals. I believe my Department has and is taking the right approach to achieve that, and we will continue that open dialogue as we during the implementation period and beyond.  
                [signed]  
                    "Lord Freud"
                  Minister for Welfare Reform  
            • Response on behalf of the Responsible Reform report by Sue Marsh and Kaliya Franklin

      47 comments:

      1. It really is just a fair bit of waffle. I remember after the consultation was done that the DWP and Ms Miller announced that they had discarded roughly half of the responses as they were "repetitive". This was due to TBoB putting out a form letter for people who didn't feel confident enough to put down how they felt in words, and then they added what else they thought at some point in the form. That these were all entirely ignored full stop rather staggers me. Why would anyone have taken the time to send such reports if they weren't really scared sh*tless what would happen if they didn't at least try to say "bad idea, let's try something else"?

        Just seems to be a "trust us, we know what we're doing" which doesn't really address any of the concerns or any of the alternatives we were asked to give with the Consultation (which is something else a lot of people miss - yes, we gave alternatives. I know it's something everyone insists we should do if we don't like the way WRB is being reshaped, but every time we give a full presentation on alternatives, these get ignored.

        All in all, fab response, shall RT hell out of this.

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        1. Not lack of confidence - just too ill to write more than a few words

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      2. Poster on Ouchtoo.org got this back from a Lord;

        Just arrived from Lord Jones who was on the list of those currently "wavering" !:

        " ... Unfortunately you appear to have been misinformed. The report “Responsible Reform” has confused many people and is fatally flawed. As the regulations surrounding PIP have not yet been decided upon – indeed consultation still has a long way to go – no-one can yet say with confidence that they will either gain or lose out under the new system.



        Those of us in the House of Lords who have great sympathy on this issue will do our very best to make sure we end up with a better system which is easier to understand and helps those in need. Please do not be alarmed by flawed analysis by those who have not taken proper care to understand the real situation.



        Kind regards,


        Nigel

        Lord Jones of Cheltenham
        Modify message

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        1. So hang on, they wish to switch to PIP yet they have no idea about any of the details? Call me Mr Silly but isn't that flawed within itself? Isn't that kinda like saying "We're going to get you hold onto this box. Experts say it's a very nasty bomb but as we haven't thought about its effects, they're talking nonsense."

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      3. I would like to publicly state, as a contributor to Responsible Reform (the "#spartacusreport"), that I stand by and support this rebuttal of Lord Freud.

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        1. SO SAY WE ALL!

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        2. Bum, Sam, I should have thought of that. I should have asked you, Sarah, Declan etc to add your names too. Do you mind if I add them retrospectively?

          I'm really sorry. Please don't think it's ego, I just wanted to answer Freud before anyone else :((

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        3. You wrote the response to his letter and therefore signed it by you but quite rightly added "on behalf of Responsible Reform Report", which I took to include me as well as the other writers and helpers. I don't see anything wrong with that and would leave it as it is.

          Just my personal take on it.

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        4. Yes Sue, I support what Spoonydoc at 12.28PM says re signatories to Responsible Reform; I've been helping as much as I can emailing peers etc.,but am so grateful to you and the others who have actually organised the campaign - I would be happy and honoured to support the response to the wretched Lord Fraud and be counted as a signatory. I suspect loads of people feel the same. Also, on the subject of raising more funds if these are needed - just ask! We all know you're on the side of the angels.

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        5. I'm with Spoonydoc. You wrote it on our behalves. I just wanted to make very clear that I stand by it as well. If you'd prefer to put my name on it too, then sure, but you should take the credit for drafting it ;)

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      4. What can I say - you're good! You have made my evening and we all appreciate all of your very hard work, thank you!

        Are you in need of more funds, do we need to do another round of collections?

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        1. I really need to talk to everyone about the money, but a) I don't get time to breathe and b) it feels a bit opportunistic in middle of all the chaos.

          Any suggestions everyone? I wish I could do group blogs by invite only, lol.

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      5. How will the rebuttal be sent to Lords? If we all send a copy, won't that cause them to get a bit precious (ie do a Jon Snow)?

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        1. Actually, scratch that. An email campaign to show support for the rebuttal with a link, and a paste below?

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        2. I don't know. We have so little time and REALLY exciting news coming in the morning. I think just sending it individually will have to do. Those that are on side will take freud with a pinch of salt, but I do think it important they get our response.

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      6. Lord Freud really is below contempt and I suspect he is being used and will be disguarded as others have in the past if he fails to get these plans through...

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      7. The guardian ran a piece today in support of the need for reform: "We can't duck this reform of benefits for disabled people"
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/15/duck-reform-disabled-benefits-disability?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038

        This was my response:

        The big problem with this is that what is proposed right now would be to transfer the reviews to a broken system being managed for profit and not fit for purpose in any sense of that phrase. (i.e. Atos)

        Atos must go before any reform of DLA/PIP (or whatever the revised benefit is called) or MP's surgeries will be filled with yet more horror stories of wrongly witheld benfits being denied to the most in need of them because the current error in the statistics used by the the DWP is largely caused by incorrect Atos assessments of those claims reviewed by them and then this flawed Atos "judgement" being rubber stamped by an all too willing DWP Decision Maker.

        Face to face review of claims makes sense (for some) but if Atos is that face you may as well just take us all out and shoot us, it would be kinder in the long run and the bullet will cost far less than the inevitable increase in appeals if this abuse of our entitlements as citizens doesn't change.

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      8. This was the the process that the ESA came into being, initial 'high level legal framework' and then masses of secondary leglislation, NL promoted and instituted al of its welfare reform this way, limiting scrutiny. S/L does not have to be approved by parliament and so all sort of bad things can be added, though the principle of ESA is bad enough.

        Btw, wavering Lords, etc, i suspect there will be a few more who are swayed by Frauds duplicitious letter, sadly I think these reforms will be implemented and the public mood will only turn when the 'horror stories' mount up. Imo, 'spartacus' should become a bona fide campaigning organisation, the Govt were and are seriously rattled by the level of organisiation and media savvy displayed, which would have been even more so if the report had been given the media coverage it deserved...

        There should have been a royal commission into benefits/welfare, that would have been fair...

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        1. But you know, Lord Freud, elected by nobody and appointed as a Baron by Cameron, following Blair asking him to check out welfare, knows far better than any disabled person about what needs to be done and how to do it. He is a man of inestiminable esteem, quality and talent, far greater than you or I. He's a former investment banker and a facilitator of peace between Palestine and Israel - so obviously he knows all about welfare!!!

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      9. Your doing a grand job sue as always you will still need to be very careful of what lord freuds has to say as he very masterful with words and can sway the other peers to get behind him at any time

        i dont trust him and never have

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        1. By all means don't trust him, but I wouldn't be so concerned about his efforts to persuade other peers - not nearly so masterful as you might think. In fact "floundering", "slippery" and "deeply unconvincing" are just three of the descriptive terms that can be applied to his performances in the chamber, which is one of the reasons why he so comprehensively lost three votes in a row.

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        2. He was anything but masterful with his words during last week's hat trick - I honestly haven't seen anyone so utterly rubbish at public speaking (who has to rely upon it regularly to present to a full house of peers). He kept fumbling and even said "I forgot where I was trying to go with this" at one point. He may write a nice letter, but when he actually has to talk he ums and ahs and mumbles and stammers.

          I suspect he wrote this because he's aware once he's put on the spot again tomorrow he's going to give just as poor a show.

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        3. well i think he has a lot of clout and David Cameron thinks so as well

          We are on a roll at this time and the government is getting a little battered but if we could focus in on those that have killed themselves through the unforeseen stresses that they endured before taking their own lives then the pressure and focus will switch back on to David Cameron and you can be sure that the heat will then be on him and him alone

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      10. Just want to express my support for the #spartacusreport and say that if there is anything I can do to help, like reading and logging some of the 5000 other responses when you get them then please let me know.

        Lord Freud's letter is quite clearly him trying to scrabble back support that he has lost or was in danger of losing. Hopefully many more of the Lords will read the report properly and understand what it represents, the view of many, many more people who are represented by those organizations and charities.

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        1. It may well be that we need to find 30 or so people to do just that - read through the responses and simply mark them "support" "mixed feelings" and "against"

          I don't think it will be necessary though. The bill will have left the Lords before we even get the FOI back. It's more that I'm about 90% convinced they hold even worse news for the Gov and I wanted them to put their money where their mouths are - after all, he said he wanted to be "very clear" about it.

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      11. I'll never trust Atos and any attempt to give it a friendly face or have people believe it is fair will not happen now. The damage has been done.

        More imput is required from those who know you and deal with your medical problems...the Dr's, Nurses, Consultant's, Carers etc...all those who see you over the weeks, months and years. Your medical records say it all.

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      12. Politicians have a habit of rebutting the parts they are able to spin, and conveniently forgetting to mention the parts they have no way of rebutting. The art of deception by omission is one slimeball politicians like Lord Freud have mastered down to an art.
        It is apparent to me that they intend to ram these measures through by any means necessary, including by stealth (to use the spin, PC term for 'lies and deception'). The fight will be long and dour, but we WILL succeed. The alternative is not an option.

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        1. "deception by omission" I wish I'd thought to say that.

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      13. As a person with Autism (Aspergers) I agree totally with what "responsible reform"/"Spartacus report" said.

        It's nice to have someone in your corner as i have been feeling pretty doomed and isolated since around 2009 when this welfare reform idea first came up.

        It's what I have been been trying to explain since this ill thought out welfare reform idea first came up.

        As a closing statement, They say we are trying to get 1.5m people of benefits into work but there are not 1.5m job vacancies in the UK.

        just a quick google news headline search on "labour market"and bingo:

        Recruiter - Scottish labour market in third month of decline (8 hours ago)

        The Guardian- UK labour market shows drop in permanent and temporary jobs (5 days ago)

        All we hear about day in and day out is companies going bankrupt and people losing jobs.

        Here's a total blow for blow on job losses in the uk so far : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/3542572/Financial-crisis-UK-job-losses.html





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        1. "Only 15% of adults with autism are in full-time employment, but most are willing and able to work." - The National Autistic Society.

          That's not cause we are benefit scroungers

          that's because the workplace is an uncaring, cold -hearted, cut-throat environment, Designed to make money for the people at the top with no regard to the feeling or welfare of it's employees.

          Your not a name your just a number if your disabled or Non-disabled.

          If Your a disabled your seen as a cog in the machine that's not working correctly. Thus your a slow down on that money making machine, So they won't employ you.

          The world is run by greed and employers have to make the most money with as little resources as possible So disabled people are out.

          To quote a ruthless business man which although fictional reflects quite well society views on capitalism:

          It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business -Michael Corleone (The Godfather 1972)

          It's not the employers fault it's the way the social hierarchal system of society is today. Put food on the table or starve and die that's a message to today's workforce.

          We will be continually booted from the workplace using excuses and politics to hide the basic fact that we aren't welcome in the cut throat profit making world.

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      14. Having trouble breathing so I'll be brief. I never heard anything about 'the consultation' so to be representative surely the majority of people affected should have been consulted?

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      15. As for PIP, it's obvious that only those requiring full-time nursing care will qualify and those of us that need to LIVE a life ,with help will be denied that choice. I can't live alone, I have conditions that require immediate medical treatment if something goes wrong so I can surmise that not being eligible for PIP I'll either die an unpleasant and lonely death .. Which is the money saving option or need care in a nursing home.

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      16. If anybody needs any more evidence that this government is involved in ethnic cleansing of the disablility kind - then here it is.

        Isn't this what many fought against and lost their lives for during the war?

        my word verification is emess!!

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      17. Lord Freud is a very naughty boy

        Lord Freud happy to take winter fuel allowance even though amillionaire

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8967033/Lord-Freud-urges-elderly-to-donate-winter-fuel-cash.html

        Lord Freud stopping widows bereavement benefits

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8952062/Lord-Freud-plans-shake-up-of-benefits-for-widows.html

        Lord Freud on benefit caps

        http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/tenancies/lord-freud-resists-benefit-cap-amendments/6519306.article

        Lord Freud causes concern about ESA

        http://fullfact.org/blog/lord_freud_work_capability_assessment-3097

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        1. Its like hearing something totally different! How can he get away with saying that in the Lords? Spartacus report clearly shows they say one thing, we have evidence of another. Do they think all the thousands of people on this blog alone really are a one off and the other 99% of people who responded to DLA were in agreement, get real!
          Its one thing to make up lies to change laws to screw the sick and disabled, it is quite another to say we all agree with it!!!!!!!

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        2. just look at the definition of politician if you want the answer:

          pol·i·ti·cian noun :

          A person who acts in a manipulative and devious way, typically to gain advancement.

          Sounds just like Lord Freud to me.

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        3. Sounds like a banker and financier posing for the welfare of people ?

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      18. Why is Lord Freud so determined in providing "Help" for us when we can see his bill and its methods are designed to be everything but help and will simply be obstructive, intrusive, and a torturous process
        Why do our politicians have to resort to double talk and out right deception ?

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      19. I don't suppose it will do a bit of hood but I've just emailed the Lord thanking him for his response, asking him to visit "#spartacusreport# and telling him exactly what his plans will do to me.

        At least I feel better at having vented appropriately!

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      20. I do not think this has yet been posted here?

        Freud has published a consultation on the points and descriptors for the proposed PIP, including the number of points required to be eligible for the Standard and Enhanced rates of PIP, it can be found on the DWP website on the What's New page: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/whats-new or at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/pip-assessment-thresholds-and-consultation.pdf.

        Unsurprisingly it shows an astounding lack of knowledge of disability, its impact on daily living and the associated costs.

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        1. Haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else. More evidence of Lord Freud's attitude.

          On This Week last Thursday, Alan Johnson was talking about the Lords vote. His comments come about 4 minutes into the programme...

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b019j7pz/This_Week_12_01_2012/

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      21. Lion Hearted Girl17 January 2012 20:05

        Hi, just wanted to say thanks to all who are fighting against this unbelievable attack on people with long-term sickness or disablities and government mendaciousness.

        I've tried to do my bit (when my health allows) and yesterday emailed 30 cross-bench peers to ask them to read the 'Responsible Reform' report, if they hadn't already, and to vote for a delay to PIP legislation.
        I have my fingers, toes and most of my internal organs crossed for luck!

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      22. Am catching up with the responses to your report and can only congratulate all contributors - this dreadful bunch of affluent fascists (an under-statement) are taking advantage of the fact that disabled and disadvantaged people are least likely to find the energy to complain!
        As a retired NHS worker and a recipient of cancer treatments I am prepared to do as much as possible to challenge these so-called reforms - there are so many patronising lies being spouted I don't know where to begin but collective action is the only way - I was at Greenham and at the Poll Tax marchs...

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      23. if like me! you can use a computer* it's worth looking up* European network of Independent living, or ENIL* for short! the UK* has signed up to this! and presumably agree! you will find a proposal by the UN* on dealing with cuts to disabled people during austerity!! use this proposal to our advantage*
        my name is richardmagus*
        from, Wiltshire*
        brain haemorrhage sufferer!
        1990*
        and still able to fight*
        good luck* to you all!!
        Xxx

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        ReplyDelete
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        ReplyDelete
      26. Lord Freud is making me homeless with the welfare reform bill. Hope he doesn't end up homeless from his home address,

        Lord Freud,
        Eastry Court,
        Church Street,
        Eastry, Kent. CT13 OHL

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