DisabledGo supports the Leonard Cheshire 'Action for Access' campaign…

Campaigning for an accessible UK

DisabledGo are working in partnership with Leonard Cheshire to help promote their Action for Access campaign which aims to provide resources and information for campaigners and businesses.

Inspired by local campaigners tackling the issue of inaccessible shops and services in their local areas, Action for Access gets campaigners and businesses working together to improve access for everyone.

The campaign focuses on providing the right resources and support for campaigners so they can take direct action in their local communities. The campaign works with both groups of campaigners and individuals and offers support in campaigning through email, phone and meetings. 

Talking about the partnership Amy Parker, Campaigns Supporter Engagement Officer at Leonard Cheshire Disability said,

‘We are really pleased to be working in partnership with DisabledGo. Together we can provide people with the information and tools they need to reduce the impact of access barriers and go out and take action for an accessible UK.’

DisabledGo’s founder and Chief Executive Dr Gregory Burke said

‘DisabledGo are committed to breaking down the barriers disabled people face and we see this partnership with Leonard Cheshire as another positive step forward. To date DisabledGo has collected data to 90,000 venues and made a real difference to the choices and accessibility on offer to disabled people. I am sure the partnership will increase access for disabled people to resources and expertise.

To get involved in this campaign, simply follow the four easy steps at www.actionforaccess.org, Tel: 0203 2420 410 or E: campaigning@LCDisbaility.org 

Campaign packs are available in alternative formats.

For more information

If you have any questions or are interested in an information and training session please contact, Amy Parker, Campaigns Support Engagement Officer on 077383 29203 or email amy.parker@LCDisability.org

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New generation calls for opportunities within disability movement

Young disabled leaders and campaigners have appealed to the disability movement to do more to welcome younger people into its organisations.

They were speaking at a conference organised by the Disability LIB alliance, which was set up to build the capacity of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs).

Lucia Bellini, who has worked with the charity VSO as a capacity-builder for DPOs in Guyana, said: “Organisations need to be open and also they should value the skills that young disabled people have to offer.”

She said many established DPOs were “happy to use the same people that they have used for the last 10-15 years and are not open to change that and give new and young people the opportunities to grow”.

Gerry Hart, a member of Darlington Association on Disability’s (DAD) Young Leaders group, told the Building Our Future conference in Birmingham that creating the group had allowed young disabled people to “have a greater amount of influence” within DAD.

He said: “We are not a day centre kind of thing for poor little kids with little impairments. We are a pressure group to help ensure young disabled people and young people as a whole get their voice heard in Darlington without the council ignoring us.”

Anthony Ford, an intern with RADAR, who is involved with planning the 11 May disabled people’s Hardest Hit protest against the cuts, said DPOs needed to be “more welcoming” and more open to the ideas of young disabled people.

He said: “I think what we need to do is very simple: protest, campaign, see your MP, whatever you can do. Stand up for your rights. Don’t let other people tell you what you need.”  

Jaspal Dhani, chief executive of the UK Disabled People’s Council, a member of the Disability LIB alliance, said he had been working in the disability sector for many years and had led local DPOs and had always struggled to involve young disabled people.

He said he had been inspired by hearing the young disabled speakers, who showed there was “a future and a passionate future” for the disability movement.

Andrew Lee, director of People First (Self Advocacy), another Disability LIB member, said he wanted to see young disabled activists becoming MPs and councillors.

And he appealed to them to ask themselves “what you can do now on the streets, what you can do for your disability movement today”, and not to think of themselves as individuals but as “part of a very important movement”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Government refuses to name ‘independent’ advisers on new benefits test

The government has refused to name the “independent specialists” advising it on the new assessment that will test eligibility for the benefit set to replace disability living allowance (DLA).

In its response to the consultation on its DLA reforms, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says it is developing the assessment for the new personal independence payment (PIP) “in collaboration with a group of independent specialists”, including disabled people.

The DWP told Disability News Service that the “specialists” include representatives from RADAR and Equality 2025 – the government’s advice body of disabled people – and individuals from occupational therapy, psychiatry, physiotherapy, social work, general practice and community psychiatric nursing.

But a DWP spokeswoman said the government was “unable” to provide the names of the members.

When asked why, she suggested the information could be protected under data protection laws, but declined to comment further. 

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living, said this refusal was “ridiculous”.

She said: “These people potentially have a big influence on our lives and we are not allowed to know who they are.

“The assessment process, the eligibility and the method of the assessment will be critical in the roll-out of PIP, and I don’t think it is too much to ask that we know who the members of the expert panel are.

“People are really worried about who is going to be eligible in the first place but they are also worried about the methodology that is going to be employed in assessing people and what are they going to be assessed for.

“All this is going to do is add to the suspicion that there already is that the resulting assessment is going to exclude most disabled people from eligibility for the new benefit.”

Theresa Rowe, a disabled activist and welfare rights specialist, said this “aura of secrecy” was “unacceptable”, because the group needed to be “accountable” to disabled people.

She said: “If we have no knowledge of how they recruited this group, how can people feel confident? We need to know who the people are who are helping DWP.”

She said members of the group may be cautioning the government not to repeat the mistakes made with the unpopular work capability assessment, the new test for out-of-work disability benefits. But she said the group was still there to help the government deliver its planned 20 per cent reduction in spending on working-age DLA.

Rowe, who is involved with the disabled people’s organisation Richmond AID, added: “I am just wondering what the government have got to hide.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Naidex 2011 – Read our Review

5th – 7th of April the DisabledGo team headed to the NEC in Birmingham for the Naidex exhibition. This is the second year we have had a stand so we were all very excited to be back.

Naidex 2011

Naidex 2011

Naidex is the UK’s number 1 exhibition for the national homecare, rehabilitation and disability market. With thousands of products being exhibited by over 360 companies, the event gave visitors, the chance to test, touch and compare the most innovative new products to aid independent living.

Armed with pens, sweets and furry bugs we set to work letting as many people as possible know about www.disabledgo.com. We met many people who already knew about us and use us on a regular basis but also people who had never heard of us and as a result were keen to get on the web and plan their next trip out.

It was also a fantastic opportunity for us to promote our exciting new service, online disability equality training which has been designed to help organisations change attitudes and make cultural changes across their organisation.

Rachel Murray and Steve Coulter, Enable Solihull

Enable Solihull

The event was well attended and we were fortunate enough to find some time to look around other stands. We saw some familiar faces, Enable Solihull, who we work with on the DisabledGo-Solihull access guide were stand holders for the very first time.  As well as other key organisations such as Guide Dogs, Able Magazine, RNID, Disabled Living Foundation and Mobilise to name a few.

We had a great three days meeting new and interesting people who now follow us on Twitter and Facebook; we also hope to see many of those people at our steering groups up and down the UK.

Another successful event, thank you Naidex we look forward to seeing you again next year…

Care funding commission report raises concerns on portability

A new report by the commission set up to examine the long-term funding of care and support in England has raised concerns that the independent body could be set to ignore key demands of disabled people and their organisations.

The report by the Commission on Funding of Care and Support – set up by the government and chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot – summarises more than 250 responses that were received following a call for evidence.

The report repeatedly refers to responses calling for portable assessments – allowing disabled people to move house without having to be reassessed on their needs by their new local authority.

But it does not mention that some disabled people’s organisations called for portability of entire care packages, which would allow people to claim the same level of support if they moved to a new local authority area.

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living, said the need for portability of care packages was “pretty fundamental”.

She said: “There is not much point in having portability of assessments. You really have to go the whole way to make a difference and guarantee people’s independent living wherever they live in the country.”

She said she believed the commission did not understand the importance of real portability to disabled people because “they cannot think in terms of people having ordinary lives”.

Marije Davidson, public affairs manager for RADAR, which also backed portability of care packages, said portable assessments would be “welcome but would not solve the problem”.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the report was “a summary” and “not an exhaustive list of everything everybody mentioned” and so “does not in any way mean that nobody called for portability of care packages”.

She claimed the summary did not “reflect the commission’s thinking” and was “purely a summary of what people wrote in to them”.

There were also concerns after Dilnot apparently rejected the idea of funding free care and support for disabled and older people through an increase in general taxation or national insurance.

Dilnot claimed there was “considerable support” for both the state and individuals contributing to the cost of care, although he accepted there was also “strong support from some” for the free care option. 

But he added: “Whilst there are some who would still like to see free care, we can see a growing understanding that a truly sustainable solution is going to come from responsibility being shared between the individual and the state.”

Davidson said there was wide support for a tax-funded system of free care – similar to the NHS – and questioned where this “growing understanding” was coming from.

Bott said she was also disappointed by Dilnot’s remarks and said it was “pretty pointless” consulting with large numbers of people and groups – who supported free care – “if you are not then going to take account of what those people and groups say”.

The commission also said that those responding had stressed that disabled people of working age with support needs “did not have the same opportunity to build up assets or income” as those who develop needs as they grow older and so would need to continue to be covered by a “safety net”.

And they raised concerns that the current “safety net” was “underfunded”, with eligibility “tightening to unacceptable levels”, while there were also complaints about the impact of councils charging for support.

The commission is due to report its findings to the government by the end of July.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Government refuses to name ‘independent’ advisers on new benefits test

The government has refused to name the “independent specialists” advising it on the new assessment that will test eligibility for the benefit set to replace disability living allowance (DLA).

In its response to the consultation on its DLA reforms, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says it is developing the assessment for the new personal independence payment (PIP) “in collaboration with a group of independent specialists”, including disabled people.

The DWP told Disability News Service that the “specialists” include representatives from RADAR and Equality 2025 – the government’s advice body of disabled people – and individuals from occupational therapy, psychiatry, physiotherapy, social work, general practice and community psychiatric nursing.

But a DWP spokeswoman said the government was “unable” to provide the names of the members.

When asked why, she suggested the information could be protected under data protection laws, but declined to comment further.

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living, said this refusal was “ridiculous”.

She said: “These people potentially have a big influence on our lives and we are not allowed to know who they are.

“The assessment process, the eligibility and the method of the assessment will be critical in the roll-out of PIP, and I don’t think it is too much to ask that we know who the members of the expert panel are.

“People are really worried about who is going to be eligible in the first place but they are also worried about the methodology that is going to be employed in assessing people and what are they going to be assessed for.

“All this is going to do is add to the suspicion that there already is that the resulting assessment is going to exclude most disabled people from eligibility for the new benefit.”

Theresa Rowe, a disabled activist and welfare rights specialist, said this “aura of secrecy” was “unacceptable”, because the group needed to be “accountable” to disabled people.

She said: “If we have no knowledge of how they recruited this group, how can people feel confident? We need to know who the people are who are helping DWP.”

She said members of the group may be cautioning the government not to repeat the mistakes made with the unpopular work capability assessment, the new test for out-of-work disability benefits. But she said the group was still there to help the government deliver its planned 20 per cent reduction in spending on working-age DLA.

Rowe, who is involved with the disabled people’s organisation Richmond AID, added: “I am just wondering what the government have got to hide.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Disabled people facing ‘rocketing’ charges for support

New evidence suggests disabled people across England are facing “rocketing” fees for the support they receive at home from their council.

The “snapshot study” of 15 councils – carried out by Disability Alliance for the Coalition on Charging – also found that some local authorities appear to be ignoring their legal obligations around their charging policies.

The study found that six local authorities – Hertfordshire, Lewisham, Oldham, Westminster, Stoke on Trent and Richmond – have removed their maximum hourly fees for support at home.

Another six councils – Derby, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, Lancashire and Bolton – reported steep rises to their hourly rates of between nine and 78 per cent. Only one of the 15 councils – Poole – reported a fall in hourly rates.

Derby City Council will now be charging disabled people £14.22 per hour, compared with a previous rate of £8 per hour, with Warwickshire County Council increasing charges from £9.66 per hour to £16.45.

Seven of the councils have removed their weekly limit on the amount disabled people can be asked to pay for support, with another five imposing sharp increases.

The coalition said some councils also appeared to be overlooking their legal duty to “meaningfully engage” service-users on changes to charging policy, with disabled people “reporting high increases without adequate warning”.

Some councils are failing to take proper account of “disability related expenditure” – such as equipment and extra transport costs and higher utility bills – in calculating a disabled person’s ability to pay a charge.

And some councils are failing to help disabled people find alternative sources of support, another legal duty.

Neil Coyle, chair of the Coalition on Charging and director of policy for Disability Alliance (DA), said: “Councils seeking to generate income following government cuts are ignoring the potential longer-term costs of limiting support to disabled people.

“Rising charges disincentivise service use and may result in a rise in more expensive service use, like residential care.”

A Department of Health (DH) spokeswoman said: “The coalition government recently allocated an additional £2 billion a year by 2014 to support social care and to protect the most vulnerable in society.

“This funding should enable local authorities to protect people’s access to services and deliver new approaches to improve their care.”

The research was published as DA announced a new partnership with the legal firm Unity Law, which specialises in disability discrimination cases.

Coyle said the two organisations may seek to challenge a council in court for breaching care or equality law obligations in its charging policies.

Disabled people concerned about changes in their council-funded support or disability discrimination can contact Disability Alliance or Unity Law.

Meanwhile, care services minister Paul Burstow has announced plans to strengthen the law around direct payments.

The DH said it would consult on the plans, which would “ensure councils make clear to every person entitled to care and support how they can make use of a direct payment”, and force councils to make a note of decisions taken when direct payments are being discussed.

A DH spokeswoman said: “Some councils are excelling with the roll out of personal budgets, but others are lagging behind and we hope that strengthening the legislation in this area, and issuing a direction to councils, will ensure progress is more evenly spread.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com