Tuesday 29 November 2011

Europe Calls on Governments to Protect Disabled Citizens

I reproduce this letter on behalf of the European Disability Forum. On first reading, I'm not sure our UK government can claim to meet any of these demands. Except No.3 of course, which appears to be a particular obsession.... 
Despite the rhetoric, cuts to Access to Work even call No.3 into question.


To the Heads of State and Government of the European Union,


persons with disabilities wants to keep their rights
The European Disability Forum (EDF), the voice of 80 million persons with disabilities and their families in Europe, calls on all the Governments of the European Union to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities and their families are taken into account all the way through economic, political and social policies.

Austerity measures undertaken by governments in the European Union could undermine progress towards the realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the social targets of the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020. Poverty, social exclusion, discrimination, marginalisation, illiteracy and negative stereotypes of people with disabilities can be the sad legacy of the economic, social and political reforms if implemented without duly consideration of the rights of people with disabilities.
The EDF calls on the European Council and all the Governments of Europe to ensure that people with disabilities are not socially, economically or politically excluded. In order to make sure  that the rights of persons with disabilities are not undermined by current responses to the economic crisis, we must consider that: 
1. People with disabilities might freely move in European societies, live independently and included in society: no action restricting these capacities should be envisaged in any social protection reform. Personal assistance and other community support services should not be undermined by austerity measures.

2. Education of persons with disabilities will be respected and reforms in the education systems will not mean reduction in education support policies in mainstream education and should not lead to segregation to special schools.

3. The right to work and employment is fully respected: Measures for full inclusion in employment including reasonable accommodation and supported employment should not disappear from the national employment policies.

4. Access to health services for people with disabilities is not put into question and health services for people with disabilities do not consider their health as secondary in respect to non-disabled people.

5. That Social habilitation and rehabilitation is considered an investment for European societies ensuring that all capacities are collected and fully participate in the construction of Europe after the crisis. The quality of social services should remain a pre-condition for respecting the human rights of people with disabilities.

6. Adequate living standards and social protection are ensured. This will mean that no measures are taken that will have the effect of leading people with disabilities into poverty, social exclusion or reduction of his/her living income.

7. Freedom of expression and opinion and access to information is not restricted by reforms of public and private services.

8. Respect for family life is ensured by guaranteeing to all people with disabilities and their families adequate family policies. These policies should remain a priority.

9. Organisations representing people with disabilities should be consulted in regard to any action that could have an impact on the rights of people with disabilities.

10. Raising the awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities should take place in order to ensure that the portrayal of persons with disabilities in the media and other relevant stakeholders is done correctly and does not lead to social stigmatisation.
Yannis Vardakastanis
President of the European Disability Forum


  1. Lets very much hope so although any decent government shouldn't need reminding. If i was the prime minister it would be me telling the rest of the EU leaders to make sure that the sick and disabled were supported in the right manor at all times

    David Cameron and co fall well short of the mark and are a disgrace to any civilized society and should hang their heads in shame

  2. I am sitting here, as a carer acting on behalf of someone, holding in my hand a letter declaring this young person fit for work in the support group. The letter was addressed to ME. The person concerned rarely leaves the house and has severe problems. He now has to attend face to face interviews with a advisor to help him back to work (or lose benefits)He also has to attend a "work focused health related assessment" with a health care professional. Funny how there was nothing they could do for him under the NHS... He does not speak to strangers, does not speak on the telephone, has no qualifications and has never gone out alone. all of this was spelled out and the DWP sent the GP to our home - and he declared persoon unfit! He will never in a million years be able to challenge this and so we will continue to care for him, despite getting old ourselves. To say I'm distraught is an understatement. I'm getting old. What is going to happen to him?

  3. it cant go on like this people im ashamed to be british. Anon 12.19 you have to appeal against it and it could take a long time to find someone to take on your case

  4. It seems we have shot our selves i n our feet we want equality but not at this price they are using us to get the disabled off benefits

  5. Anon 12:38 - do you know whether he will have to attend an appeal or can i do it on his behalf? I've been his carer for 13 years now and am a DWP appointee. He is on High rate DLA and cannot cope with the world. It is as simple as that. He cannot fend for himself, touch anything, travel and rarely leaves the house and NEVER alone. And honestly, is there any point? I took 6 weeks to fill in a manuscript detailing EVERY aspect of his life, whether they asked for it or not. He has a medical file so thick, it has been divided into 3! So they are callously ignoring everything all to save a measly £30 per week - but how much does it cost to pay all these advisors suddenly coming out of the woodwork? and where were the medical professionals when he reached adulthood?

  6. we maybe need to speak Anon can you give me any e mail address or phone number so that we may talk further

  7. Anon, I noticed someone asking for you to get in touch somehow, but I realise that you may feel reticent about giving out your details, so I've put some info below.

    I know how daunting this can be but you have to fight this as most genuine claims are granted at appeal; meantime they cannot force him into work focused interviews.

    The assessment was obviously wrong; presumably you informed them that he could not communicate properly, that he cannot go out alone, and his many other problems. From what you have already told us here he would have scored 15 points, which is enough for him to secure a place in the ESA support group. They have not filled the computer form in correctly.

    You said he was found 'fit to work in the support group'. Usually people who are assessed as in the support group are not fit for work. I would also double check with the DWP that you have received the correct assessment outcome. Initially, I was told I was in the support group, then the working group; I challenged them and they had simply got it wrong.

    Since he is obviously incapable of so much, and you say that you are getting on in years, this may be a social services issue. I would contact them straight away tomorrow asking for a 'Duty Officer' who then be able to refer you to the department where they can offer you an assessment and some support. As a carer you are entitled to an assessment in your own right, which might flag up any extra help you can receive to support you. For example, your son may be entitled to direct payments to fund some carers to enable you to have a break; he may also be entitled to 'day ops' money, which funds hobbies and is especially there to make sure he can fund going out, say once a week.

    It's really important that you try to obtain a social services assessment for you and him because if he is assessed as needing help, this weights your ESA claim in your favour, and more importantly, the care structure will be set up for the future so that you will not have to worry. He may have to pay for certain aspects of that care he receives, like I do, but he will be left with the majority of his income, and the fact that a care plan is in place will help ensure that he retains disability benefits.

    Although social services will deal directly with care issues, they may not provide a service to help you appeal (my local social services don't anymore). You could contact the CAB office however as well; the more people that are helping support you in this the better. You can't normally telephone them, so find out where your nearest service is using the internet. You may well know where your nearest office is, but nowadays the CAB do sessions once a week in other locations; mine for instance is at my local surgery once a week.

    Finally, you must also act quickly and telephone the DWP to say that you are appealing, because if you do not they may stop his DLA as well. Remember, he will continue to receive payments while he awaits his appeal. This may not be for another year due to the backlog, but it gives you plenty of time to get social services involved (it may be some months before you can get an assessment), and for you to get your case together with the help of the CAB.

    Please, please do not despair. He is a genuine case and they will plainly gather this at appeal. Unlike Atos, the appeal tribuneral are independent and look at evidence from all aspects including GPs and consultant reports, social services reports, and of course from his and your perspective. Understand that continual assessments is the way things seem to be going now, so we can't allow that to force us to live in fear: that is just what the government want.

    You are in my thoughts. I hope you will let us know how you get on.


  8. You are in my thoughts. I hope you will let us know how you get on.


    very nicely put Clare :)

  9. Clarebelz, thank you! Re-reading the letter, he has been placed in the work related activity group. So I will phone the DWP and ask how this came about. We can count on one hand the number of times he has left the house this year and never alone. It beggars belief that they can ignore all the evidence. Thank you again for your help and support.

  10. We have rights,both UK law,and European law says so,that does not stop the Goverment ignoring them. Remindingthemisnotenough,it is time, the Government was held to account over DP rights. Legal action would send the strongest message yet,that crips rights are not to be ignored.

  11. Get us out of this illegitimate, undemocratic and totalitarian organisation of the EU!

  12. So they have given up on cutting DLA mobility for people in care homes, aint that nice of them sue suggested that it may have been a ploy all along still its nice to know how many lives they have wrecked prior to it though. on the other hand PIP will still be going ahead so we can start all over again worrying and contemplating the future if we even have one that is

  13. Get us out of this illegitimate, undemocratic and totalitarian organisation of the EU!

    That would only make matters worse you would end up like the middle east with a dictatorship that is the reason behind the EU so that the law and human rights are protected at all times even thow it may not at times look like the EU isn't working it's better to be in than out

  14. Anonymous carer -

    Please contact the Disability Alliance and email your MP. When you call DWP tell them that you will need to have more time than the one month to appeal; you want a reconsideration first, and time to get evidence - they have to comply with this.

    Make a formal complaint to Atos - this is very important.
    email customer-services@atoshealthcare.com and express your view that the assessment is wrong; ask who decided that a WCA was needed; they are bound in their contract to give you this information. If you don't have a copy of the "medical" report, ask for one. They are contracted to reply within 2 days,they probably won't, so do it again on a daily basis.
    Every time they fail in their contractual obligation, this is more evidence.
    You need the "evidence" they used to make the decision for an appeal, which includes the report and the ESA50 so ask for a copy of that as well.
    You are up against a huge machine which is designed not to help; but don't give up.

    Keep files, keep copies of everything you send. Ask the DWP for a reconsideration before you appeal; bear in mind that you can demand they do not insist on the one month deadline for the appeal as you need more time to get evidence and you have a complaint in progress with Atos. They have to comply, and if they try to put you off, tell them your MP's involved.

    Your priority is to get the first emails and calls done, then get advice - CAB are brilliant, and depending where you live, the council or local charities may have welfare advisers who can help. Charities like Scope, Mind, and others may also be able to help.

    Never forget -

    I'm currently going through all this again; it's not easy, but if we don't fight, we're stuffed.

    There are a few legal actions ongoing which might set a precedent at some point - but meanwhile, there is help out there and it's worth fighting for what little there is.

    Please don't give up - this is what the bastards in government are hoping for. You'll find lots of advice online - blacktrianglecampaign.org has masses of links where you'll see that we disabled refuse to be treated like second-class citizens.

    What you are doing to care for someone so disabled is brave and wonderful - people like you keep people like me safe and cared for.

    You are a hero and worth better than this.

  15. Where is the blog to support the workers' plight on November 30th? Do you not support our struggle? It seems unreasonable to expect support for your cause from those who are struggling on low imcomes and bot offer support in return.

  16. Sadly, I'm finding myself stumbling across so many similar stories like the one described by the person caring for that young man. They are all over the Internet. I am so angry and feel so helpless and scared by what I read. I had a home visit recently too, I have agoraphobia and panic disorder and though I felt confident that the doctor empathised with my condition, after reading this person's experience now I don't feel confident at all. If I am placed in the work related group I will of course have to appeal. I trust that justice and truth must prevail in the end. The CAB and so many mental health and disability charities and organisations must be inundated with similar testimonies if the sheer scale of the appeals being processed is a measure of anything. The personal misery and distress is something else though. I do wonder if these heart breaking personal accounts of the damage being done to vulnerable people could be collected all together and sent to every Lord, MP, newspaper, TV station in the land, you name it, and let them see the true extent of the hardship and suffering the coalition is causing. Proof that disabled and mentally ill citizens are far from being protected. We have to make them take notice. They have to listen. I just cannot believe how people are being treated in the UK in this day and age. Every last man woman and child needs to know the impact of this welfare reform on their fellow human beings. It simply cannot be allowed to go on!

  17. I'm so touched by the help and advice being given to me. My heart breaks for this vulnerable young man, who is distraught that someone thinks he's a scrounger and has declared him fit for work. I cannot get him to understand that it is not a reflection on him at all. He has required help and support since the age of 2, has spent 2 years in hospital when still under CAMHS, has no life outside of the house and never even goes into our garden.

    I will look up all the sites suggested and see what I can do. We do not want to exacerbate his problems by forcing him into a situation he will be unable to deal with, but if I can manage to do something for him, I certainly will. Thank you once again for all your kindness. It is much appreciated.

  18. yes we should support the workers and they should support us to .But they don't its the tory way of playing one against the another .And its working people in work think we are lazy scum. but if we work to together we can win .

  19. Pam - some of us do what you suggest, actually.
    My carer (he's retired) went to stand with public sector workers on a picket line in Merthyr - he couldn't afford the petrol for Cardiff - and as an e-nurse myself I've been blogging my support all over the place.
    Forgive me - but I thought this site was about disability issues. And I think all of us are well aware of the erosion of rights public sector workers are confronted with by this awful government.

  20. Ephemerid. Thanks for your support. i agree the support needs to be mutual. Think-Left.Org supports both disabilty and workers issues. I thought it a pity that the site ignored the Big Day.

  21. Pam!!! How could you? You know very well I didn't ignore the big day.

    You know very well what it costs me just to highlight the issues I do. How ill I've been these last two weeks and that - oh, let's not forget - in the middl of it all I've been moving house, appealing my DLA decision, battling to get my deposit back from a B***tard landlord.

    I don't tell you what to write on your site and I'm horribly disappointed to see that you would judge me for what I write on mine.

    I'm one woman. I don't have a group of bloggers to write articles as you well know. I do what I can, when I can.

  22. Pam
    Sue is right we have a hell of a lot going on i know i do and am sure all the other readers to this blog do

    The public sector workers were not forgotten that i can assure you people like myself and sue would never forget anyone no matter where they live in the world

    All i ever ask of people is to think of others before yourself in that way you will never go wrong in life that's what my parents taught me as a young boy and in going through the many family photo's that i have of my days in international travel i seam to be in the middle of most of them surrounded by the locals a true leader AND THAT'S THE WAY I INTEND TO STAY

    I wont be getting in the gutter with David Cameron and IDS etc that i can assure you Pam

  23. Me again. I've phoned the DWP and have spoken to a young man who was not much help. I have insisted he put in a request for a copy of the medical report and ESA50 and for them to reconsider their decision. He has told me to put my note of intent in writing to the Benefits Centre and they pass it on to ATOS.What do you think? Do that as well as email ATOS as suggested above? The impression I got was that I was being stonewalled...so much for a "helpline"! Thank you once again for all your help, everyone. It is appreciated.

  24. Oh dear, my post strike-grumpiness and anger at govt seems to have been misdirected or misunderstood. If there is any doubt I have been in support of this blog from Day One and remain so.
    Sue knows that. We are all on the same side opposing this awful government which continues only because of support of the Liberal Democrats and no party had an overall majority.
    We must all stand together.
    Please accept my sincere apologies for any misunderstanding.
    Pam x

  25. Not a problem Pam the stress of everything does give rise to misunderstanding from time to time :)