Anne McGuire: Everyone Counts, Everyone Matters

Anne McGuire MP

Thursday 6th June 2013

By Anne McGuire MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People

Governments love “strategies”. However, they not only have to develop them, but also ensure that they are delivered. In 2005, having established the Disability Rights Commission in 1999, the Labour Government produced “Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People”, its groundbreaking disability strategy. It was different in three ways. Firstly, it was developed by disabled people working as full participants with the Strategy Unit in No 10. Secondly, it had a vision with a clearly defined roadmap which everybody bought into. And thirdly, it had clear and measurable milestones with named ministers specifically charged with its implementation and reporting annually to the Prime Minister on progress achieved.
The Coalition Government, after three years in power, has only recently published its “Fulfilling Potential” report, apparently a step on the road to producing its own strategy. The report states that: “A wide range of outcome measures show improvement from their baseline. There have been significant improvements in educational attainment, in the employment rate and a reduction in the employment rate gap. There have also been improvements in other factors contributing to quality of life, for example in access to transport and access to goods and services. Attitudes towards disabled people have also been improving in some cases.”
So why is it that I constantly hear disabled people saying that their world is going backwards; that they feel they are not valued; that they feel demonised in the tabloid media; and that they are now the victims of greater levels of hate crime? Why is it that the Joint Committee on Human Rights stated recently that: “There seems to be a significant risk of retrogression of independent living and a breach of the UK’s obligations [of the UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities].” Why are disabled people increasingly in the courts challenging government policy and not inside No 10 helping develop it?
Where is the disability strategy? What is it? “Fulfilling Potential”, as it stands, is little more than a research paper, often advising the reader of progress since 2005, without recognising that progress was made because the “Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People” strategy was not just an analysis of the challenges but a roadmap to breaking down the barriers. Disabled people could plot the progress as it affected their lives. I wonder if the reluctance of the current government to commit to its own disability strategy is that they do not want to be held to account by disabled people?
Is it little wonder that disabled people feel disengaged and resentful at what is happening? I suspect that they have made up their own minds as to what the government’s strategy is. To them, it is one that sees a raft of changes in the benefits system without considering the cumulative impact on their lives – abolition of DLA, reductions in support for families with disabled children, the bedroom tax, cutbacks in social care and support, and a Work Programme that is not delivering for them. What kind of progressive strategy thinks that an equality duty is a burden on business, rather than an encouragement to break down barriers?
The UK used to be seen across the world as a beacon for the progress it had made towards equality for disabled people. Sadly, action speaks louder than words, and as Sir Bert Massie, former chair of the DRC, once said: “Many disabled people have been invited to look up to the stars…only to find the ground opening up beneath them.”
Further Reading:
Labour’s disability and  poverty taskforce set to target ‘fitness for work’ test
The UK Government is on the Wrong Side Of Human Rights
The Coming Tyranny and the Legal Aid Bill
What Labour achieved, lest we forget

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8 thoughts on “Anne McGuire: Everyone Counts, Everyone Matters

  1. I’d best paste the comments from Esther McVeys’ piece of crass lying here, as I suspect they will be removed.

    Sue Jones · Top Commenter · Works at Reaching People
    How is THIS fair? – If there is anyone left in doubt that this Government’s policies are grossly unfair, and are punishing the most vulnerable of our citizens, whilst the Tories are claiming that they are benevolent and paternalistic, by utilising an Orwellian Newspeak/Doublespeak methodology, you need look no further than Clause 99 for evidence to verify my conjecture. Currently, claimants who are found fit for work can continue to receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA) at the basic rate by immediately lodging an appeal if they think the decision is wrong. ESA will then remain in payment until the appeal is decided.

    That is all set to change, however, under Clause 99 of the Welfare Reform Bill, intended to be effective from April 2013. – and according to the Department of Work and Pensions, from October 2013 that includes ESA and DLA decisions. Under the new rules, claimants who wish to challenge a benefit decision will no longer be allowed to lodge an appeal immediately. Instead, there will be a mandatory revision or review stage, during which a different Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decision maker will reconsider the evidence and, if necessary, send for more information, before deciding whether to change the original decision.

    There will be no time limit on how long this process can take. The requirement for a mandatory review/revision before proceeding with appeal applies to all DWP linked benefits. The ludicrous claim from Government is that this “simplifies” the appeal process, and ”the changes will improve customer service by encouraging people to submit additional evidence earlier in the process to help improve decision making. Resolving any disputes without the need for an appeal will also help ensure that people receive the right decision earlier in the process.” Call me a cynic, but I don’t believe this is the genuine reasoning behind clause 99 at all.

    You will have to appeal directly to HM Courts and Tribunal Services, this is known as “direct lodgement,” as DWP will no longer lodge the appeal on your behalf. DWP has agreed with the Tribunal Procedure Committee to introduce time limits to stipulate how long DWP has to respond to an individual appeal. DWP is currently discussing what these time limits might be with the Tribunal Procedure Committee. That is assuming, of course, that people manage to circumnavigate the other consequences of this legislation.

    From 1 April 2013 you will not be able to get Legal Aid for First-tier Tribunal hearings. Legal Aid will still be available for appeals to the Upper Tribunal and Higher Courts. See appealing to the Upper Tribunal against a first tier tribunal decision here: legal aid act 2012 for more information. So much for the right to a fair hearing.

    There are some serious implications and concerns about these changes. Firstly, there is no set time limit for DWP to undertake and complete the second revision. Secondly, claimants are left with no income at all whilst they await the review, and until appeal is lodged. The DWP have stated that there is “no legal reason” to pay a benefit that has been disallowed during the review period. The only choice available seems to be an application for Job Seekers Allowance. (JSA). However, we know that people in situations where they have been refused ESA have also been refused JSA, incredibly, on the grounds that they are unavailable for work, (and so do not meet the conditions that signing on entails) or they are unfit for work, because they are simply too ill to meet the conditions. We know of people who have had their application for JSA refused because they attend hospital for treatment once a week and so they are “not available for work” at this time.

    Furthermore, there is some anecdotal evidence of people being told by DWP that in order to claim JSA, they must first close their original claim for ESA, since it isn’t possible to have two claims for two different benefits open at the same time. DWP are also telling people that this means withdrawing their ESA appeal.

    Another grave concern is that although most people on income related ESA are automatically passported to maximum Housing and Council Tax Benefit, from the time that the claim ends, (and for whatever reason), eligibility to housing benefit and council tax also ends. However, I would urge people in this situation to contact the Housing Benefit office promptly to explain the situation – the DWP automatically contact the Council to tell them when someone’s eligibility for ESA has ended. It is always assumed that the person claiming has found work when their DWP related benefit eligibility ends.
    Reply · Like · Follow Post · 2 seconds ago

    Sue Jones · Top Commenter · Works at Reaching People
    Oh look, someone else agrees with me…”Ministers keep using the mantra that their proposals are to protect the most vulnerable when, quite obviously, they are the exact opposite. If implemented their measures would, far from protecting the most vulnerable, directly harm them. Whatever they do in the end, Her Majesty’s Government should stop this 1984 Orwellian-type misuse of language.” Lord Bach, discussing the Legal Aid Bill, Hansard , 19 May 2011

    Job Seekers U.K
    like us! know the truth!
    Reply · 3 · Like · Follow Post · 5 hours ago

    Sue Jones · Top Commenter · Works at Reaching People
    Access to work, you CUT it didn’t you? Caring conservatives are at it again! – “we know the headline figures for the government’s cuts to departments and benefits but the reality is trickling down in dribs and drabs that make it difficult to assess the damage they are doing, not least when such cuts are decided behind closed doors and are then deliberately concealed from the public gaze.

    Take, for instance, the Access to Work programme, which was established by the last Labour Government to ease the transition to work for disabled people by paying grants to businesses for vital equipment.

    Sharp-eyed constituents have let me know that the programme has been cut back on the quiet by loading the cost onto hard-pressed small businesses of essential equipment previously funded by central government.

    Certain types of computer software, adapted office chairs and temporary access ramps for wheelchair users are no longer provided to businesses seeking to employ a disabled person.

    I have received confirmation from officials in the North East that a national delivery team within Jobcentre Plus has introduced some operational changes to the programme. They admit that these have limited the scope of funding for applications after 1st October 2010.

    They say that.

    “Our considerations have led us to take a view on a range of equipment that we feel should be regarded as either standard provision or the type of items that we could reasonably expect an employer to fund from their own resources, taking into account current working practices, advancements in technology and normal business standards.

    “As a result we no longer expect to provide any funding for a range of items that have previously fallen within our remit, including chairs, other ergonomic items, IT hardware and more commonly used software. ”

    Expecting such costs to be borne by bigger companies may work but is too much for hard-pressed small businesses.

    This underhand underfunding contradicts the Coalition’s drive to back small businesses and also reduce the benefit bills. A single one-off payment for a piece of vital equipment at the beginning could save many thousands in benefits down the line.

    It is also scandalous that these cuts have been smuggled in under the radar. The Department has deliberately failed to follow common practice and inform potential clients of what could be a life-changing alteration for disabled people who want to work but whose employers need some help to overcome the disability of those they wish to hire. It is a very poor precedent for other departments to make cuts by stealth in the hope that few people notice them.

    Local man Robert Latham, who tipped me off and is himself blind said:

    “larger employers can and should meet these costs but 95% of employers throughout England have twenty staff or less and often don’t have the budgets to meet these costs. I can give you an example of how this will affect the employment prospects of many disabled people. A particular company with twelve full time staff wishes to fill a clerical vacancy. The manager interviews five people including one with mobility issues. The manager has to choose between two, one of whom is the disabled candidate. Both can do the job but the disabled candidate will incur extra costs. It is extremely ridiculous to think that the manager will take the disabled candidate.”

    Mr Latham added:

    “These ‘operational changes’ have had no impact assessment carried out on them as far as I am aware. This would make it more likely that extra costs would only be borne by large employers and not all employers. It is my and many other disabled people’s view that these ‘operational changes’, are just a back door way of saving money. The fact that Access to Work staff have been told not to alert disabled employees about these changes unless directly asked makes me think that someone feels they have got something to hide. I would like to ask how the Coalition will support more disabled people into work and off benefits by narrowing the type of support it is willing to finance. The Chancellor’s assertions are at best hollow, and at worst, completely unrealistic when this ladder to employment is kicked away in backdoor cuts.”

    Rob is right, I think. I have therefore tabled a raft of questions and a Freedom of Information request to winkle out the truth about this subterfuge. I hope that disability groups and unions will take up this issue. It should also alert us to what may become a common tactic by this coalition – cuts that don’t make the headlines but which make a huge difference to people.”
    Reply · Like · Follow Post · 10 minutes ago

    Sue Jones · Top Commenter · Works at Reaching People
    “The past few months have seen a number of key changes to the welfare state that demonstrates how the Government is delivering on its promise to restore fairness to the system” Fairness? The “changes” you mention are actually CUTS. Do tell me, Esther, how does that serve to “protect the most vulnerable” as you claim?

    “I am proud that we are one of the world leaders in the rights for disabled people”. Oh I see, and suppose that’s why the International Human Rights Commission have expressed grave concern about your “reforms” (CUTS), and why Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights said: “We are concerned to learn that the right of disabled people to independent living may be at risk through the cumulative impact of current reforms. Even though the UK ratified the UNCPRD in 2009 with cross-party support, the Government is unable to demonstrate that sufficient regard has been paid to the Convention in the development of policy with direct relevance to the lives of disabled people. The right to independent living in UK law may need to be strengthened further, and we call on the Government and other interested organisations to consider the need for a free-standing right to independent living in UK law.”.

    “The Government is meant to include disabled people in making sure people have their human rights upheld. We are concerned that a part of the Law on treating people equally and fairly (Equality Act section 149) does not say any more that disabled people should be involved. This is a step backwards.”.

    Yes, you have been quietly trying to dismantle the Equality Act haven’t you? Thing is Esther, some of us watch, and we noticed. Now what kind of government wants to get rid of our human rights? The same kind that lies to the media about statistics and stigmatises disabled people and the unemployed whilst your government is busy getting on with corrupt practices. We watch. And we know that whilst you are pointing your finger at the vulnerable, inciting hate , the Tory-led Coalition prefers to take money from the vulnerable, the sick and disabled, and hand it out to millionaires. We watch, and your Orwellian doublespeak doesn’t fool us one jot. Your “support” for the vulnerable has resulted in more than 10, 600 deaths so far. WHEN will there be an inquiry into those deaths? Why did your government refuse to carry out an equality impact assessment regarding the welfare cuts? Don’t worry, we already now the answer Esther.

    https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-uk-government-is-on-the-wrong-side-of-human-rights/
    Reply · Like · Follow Post · 21 minutes ago

    Sue Jones · Top Commenter · Works at Reaching People
    “So why is it that I constantly hear disabled people saying that their world is going backwards; that they feel they are not valued; that they feel demonised in the tabloid media; and that they are now the victims of greater levels of hate crime? Why is it that the Joint Committee on Human Rights stated recently that: “There seems to be a significant risk of retrogression of independent living and a breach of the UK’s obligations [of the UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities].” Why are disabled people increasingly in the courts challenging government policy and not inside No 10 helping develop it?”

    And you have some cheek referring to Labour’s Every Child Matters Bill in your title here, Esther, didn’t your party tear that down the day after it took Office? Oh yes, so it did. Gove couldn’t wait to get his grubby uncouth mitts on our best ever comprehensive, effective child protection and welfare policy.

    https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/anne-mcguire-everyone-counts-everyone-m atters/
    Reply · Like · Follow Post · 17 minutes ago

    Gail Ward · Bilston Community College
    Pure propaganda and the public are onto it too, because like us they don’t believe it neither. Disabled people who can work , which are few, are not given the correct reasonable adjustments by employers or the state so dead duck in water here Miss McVey. for many disabled people getting through a day is ardous with their health issues.
    Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · 5 hours ago

    Gail Ward · Bilston Community College
    oh I forgot to add you are breaking disabled peoples human rights daily.
    Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · 5 hours ago

    Anjelica Falterfoot · Northumbria University which was Newcastle Poly
    Add after Esther, everyone thinks you’re **** remove O&S
    Reply · 1 · Like · 4 hours ago

    Lori Homayon-jones · Top Commenter
    A serious question to the minister, following a conversation I had today with a lovely lady representing jcp at a carers event. How do you envisage supported employment working when dealing with young people with ASD and challenging behaviours? As with the new orders around education and employment for young people how do your department propose that people participate in work if they even need 1:1 support to attend the most basic social events? Would love a response, especially on where the funding to support people with LD will come from.
    Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 4 hours ago

    Ariadne Jones · Following · Manchester, United Kingdom
    o yes, human rights….https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-uk-government-is-on-the-wrong-side-of-human-rights/.
    Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 4 hours ago

    Ariadne Jones · Following · Manchester, United Kingdom
    you even stole the title which is a reference to labour’s every child matters bill, which your government demolished the day after you got in office. You have a nerve.

    Anne McGuire wrote this, pre-dating yours by 2 days: https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/anne-mcguire-everyone-counts-everyone-matters/.
    Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 5 hours ago

    Ariadne Jones · Following · Manchester, United Kingdom
    Oh yeah, no targets in the PIP assessments? LIAR! You predicted how many would lose their DLA /PIP in ADVANCE of ANY assessments. Slipped up there pet.
    Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 5 hours ago

    Ariadne Jones · Following · Manchester, United Kingdom
    When will there be an investigation into the Atos related deaths? Over 10 600m to date.
    Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 5 hours ago

    Sue Horder-Mason · Follow · University of Life
    Oh now this makes total sense. Those disabled people who can work, she/they’ll laughingly support but those of use you can’t, she/they’ll kill off.
    Reply · 6 · Like · Follow Post · 7 hours ago

    Ariadne Jones · Following · Manchester, United Kingdom
    When will there be an investigation into the Atos related deaths? Over 10 600m to date.
    Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 5 hours ago

    Sue Horder-Mason · Follow · University of Life
    Oh now this makes total sense. Those disabled people who can work, she/they’ll laughingly support but those of use you can’t, she/they’ll kill off.
    Reply · 6 · Like · Follow Post · 7 hours ago

    Iain Duncan Smith · The Führer at HM Government
    “Throughout those reforms we must make we sure we continue to protect the most vulnerable people in society” So please do tell me what you are doing about the DWP confirmed figure of 250 disabled and long term ill DYING every week due to the policies you, Iain Duncan Smith, DWP & ATOS are pursuing?

    Your loathsome party are the number one serial killers in the world & I cannot wait for you & the tory party to become extinct in 2015.
    Reply · 3 · Like · Follow Post · 6 hours ago

    Andy Stone · Thorne
    ‘The past few months have seen a number of key changes to the welfare state that demonstrates how the Government is delivering on its promise to restore fairness to the system’.

    Lies, Lies and more lies.
    Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · 5 hours ago

    Carol Anne
    Evil viile woman it should read no one counts , no one matters only us lining our pockets.
    Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · 7 hours ago

    Carol Murphy
    Tories count, Tories Matter, Everyone else in the UK, sorry (choke) we don’t have enough funds available
    Reply · 1 · Like · 4 hours ago

    Emma Selwyn · Follow · Top Commenter · Food and Beverage Host at THORPE PARK Official
    YEAH RIGHT ESTHER.
    Reply · Like · Follow Post · 5 hours ago

    Stephen Elliott · Northern College of Education, Dundee
    She’s a liar with a white smile
    Reply · Like · Follow Post · 3 hours ago

    Sam Smiley Davis · Works at Full time housewife and mother
    If only it was that simple.
    Reply · Like · Follow Post · 7 hours ago

    Like

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