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Sunday, October 09, 2005

National Disability Benefits Conference, Sheffield.

15/10/2005

The government is planning to make some of the biggest
changes in welfare provision for sixty years,
particularly that of disability benefits and
specifically Incapacity Benefit (IB). Sheffield
WelfareAction Network (SWAN)is setting up a national
founding conference (to be held Mid October) in
Sheffield to highlight these changes and the present
state of disability welfare and to facilitate the
setting up of a national framework to campaign against
these punitive changes.

National Disability Benefits conference, Sheffield
15/10/05
Challenge the cuts!



‘Welfare reform is one of the Governments seven
priorities for the coming term'
Tony Blair


‘Incapacity benefit (IB) can no longer be used as a
"crutch" for those who refuse to work.’
David Blunkett: Secretary Department of Work and
Pensions(DWP)



The Govt’s Welfare Reforms: Survival of the fittest?

The government is planning to make some of the biggest
changes in welfare provision for sixty years,
particularly that of disability benefits and
specifically Incapacity Benefit (IB). Over 800,000
disabled people may lose over £30.00 a week from their
benefit and face being cajoled into unsuitable work
These are changes which are of real concern to most
disabled people, and which will plunge many into
poverty and despair. While the changes are
comprehensive and also involve issues of personal
choice and civil
liberties (see below), the main thrust of the changes
is that there will be a penalty /cut of over £30 (well
over a third of benefit) if the person receiving IB
does not attend what they (the Gov’t) are calling
‘work-focused interviews’ to prove they are actively
seeking work, Clearly, as this will be based on
targets not need, (over 80% of IB claimants will be
required to attend), we will have the frightening and
frankly bizarre situation whereupon hundreds of
thousands of the most vulnerable people in the U.K who
find it hard to ‘just get through the day’ will be
pressured into looking for work that is not available
or impossible to undertake, or face losing this money.

Where are these jobs?

Clearly this is not about 'helping the sick back into
work' because as many critics of the policy have
noted, where are these jobs going to come from? In the
UK there are just 628,000 job vacancies at any one
time and there are about 800,000 people who are
unemployed on Jobseekers Allowance and therefore
'actively seeking work' in addition to the single
parents (around 700,000 people) and in addition to the
2,700,000 people on incapacity based benefits. So, a
whole lot of people looking for suitable work! David
Blunkett the DWP Secretary has been looking enviously
over the water to our U.S cousins to see how the
private sector and faith based charities can be used
to administer such welfare, perhaps he should look at
New Orleans to see how successful that model is.

A Soviet Union model revisited?

What is just as disturbing are the mechanisms that
will be used on People with Disabilities (PWDs) to
get them back to work which include training five
thousand psycho-therapists in Cognitive Behavioural
Therapy (CBT) (considered by many to be a
controversial therapy) in order to develop mandatory
sessions in which they can be ‘persuaded'
they are ready and suitable to pursue employment.
This is remarkably similar to the techniques used to
‘brainwash’ dissidents in the former Soviet Union. An
extension of the state into such an area is a very
significant and dangerous move. Already, a new model
of disability is being used by DWP medical staff with
severe consequences for PWD’s particular those with
‘invisible’ illnesses like M.E and IBS. (see below)

Challenging The Reforms…

In Sheffield, political seat of the DWP Secretary
David Blunkett,a new non party political group:
Sheffield Welfare Action Network (SWAN) has been set
up to challenge and campaign against these iniquitous
and cruel changes. Changes, which will affect and
burden vulnerable people, who already face one of the
most punitive welfare systems in Europe. The Left,
social justice groups and other progressive forces
have largely ignored welfare issues for many years and
hopefully this will be a start to raising the profile
of such welfare issues.


A National Response

However, SWAN is aware that such changes will need to
be resisted on a national level to be effective and is
proposing the formation of a network of U.K wide
campaigning groups to be called ‘Dignity: The National
Campaign Against Punitive Welfare’. To this end, SWAN
is seeking the widest support from individuals and
others, NGO’s,Health Support Groups, Faith Groups, the
Labour Movement, Student Unions, etc, to help create
this network. SWAN is setting up a national founding
conference (to be held Mid October)in Sheffield to
highlight these changes and the present state of
disability welfare and to facilitate the setting up of
a national framework to campaign against these
punitive changes. As well as the conference we aim to
have other future activities such as street protests,
lobbying ministers/m.p’s petitions, etc.


The Conference

The Future of Benefits
A national conference on cuts in disability benefits
and the reality of living on welfare

15 Oct 2005



Venue: Sheffield Hallam University Union of Students
The HUBS, Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2QQ
Complete Disabled Access and right
near main Train station)

Time 10.30 AM –4.30PM
Food/Refreshments
Donations
Will be accepted on the door


Speakers

Lorna Reith – Chief Exec. of Disability Alliance.
Sheila Messider - Advice Centre Support in Sheffield

Workshops(TBA)but include: how to campaign, running
groups, researching information, models of ill
health/disability, media views of welfare

Testimonials
Personal stories from those on disability welfare and
the difficulties they face

Focus
To highlight the coming disability welfare reforms and
raise the profile issue of disability welfare rights
and related issues (sadly neglected for many years)
and disability benefits issues generally and to
promote and widen its scope,

To set up a national campaigning network against the
proposed disability benefit welfare changes,
specifically disability benefit cuts and any coercive
measures that may be implemented.

Contacts
To find out more or if you have any questions, do not
hesitate to contact our secretary Chris on
07903453006 or email us on
sheffieldwelfare_an@yahoo.co.uk. (website coming
soon.)

Regards,
SWAN



Resources/links


Labour to crack down on incapacity benefit

FRASER NELSON
POLITICAL EDITOR
DAVID Blunkett yesterday drew the battle lines for an
autumn battle over welfare reform as he warned that
incapacity benefit (IB) can no longer be used as a
"crutch" for those who refuse to work.

news.scotsman.com

Ministers plan biggest shake-up of the welfare state
for 60 years
By Andrew Grice, Political Editor
Published: 12 September 2005
The Government is to embark on the biggest shake-up of
the state benefits system for 60 years, according to
David Blunkett, the Work and Pensions Secretary.

news.independent.co.uk"

Incapacity Benefit to be replaced in 2008
www.disabilityalliance.org

Incapacity benefit overhaul at heart of welfare reform

www.guardian.co.uk

Information
www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

www.rightsnet.org.uk






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1 comments:

neil h said...

I can't imagine why anyone would prefer to live on benefits if they could work, but having said that my ex seems perfectly happy to do so.