Tuesday, 29 November 2011

DWP's response to my letter of Friday 4th of November

Dear (person),

Thank you for your recent correspondence. Government Ministers receive a large volume of correspondence and they are unable to respond personally on every occasion. As your correspondence falls within the remit of this department I have been asked to respond.

The welfare reforms aim to restore the integrity of the benefits system. To help communicate this, the Department carries out regular interviews with the national, regional and specialist press to speak directly to those who will be affected.

The Department consciously does not use the language of "scroungers" as it is clear that the system itself has trapped many people in a spiral of welfare dependency. That is why the Government is making such a radical overhaul of the benefits system to ensure everyone who needs help and support receives it.

The Government statistics are regularly updated and freely available for people to access online at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

This is the Impact Assessment for applying a time limit to people's eligibility for Employment Support Allowance.


I see a problem with "To ensure that ESA is paid for a temporary period thereby creating a culture that does not allow people to stay permanently in the WRAG, that they are expected to move towards work or into the Support Group if there is deterioration in their functional impairment."

What about someone that has a static impairment (and I'm assuming was initially correctly placed in the Work Related Activity Group) , so won't be eligible for the Support group as their impairment isn't severe enough, but needs support to find work, and doesn't find work in the allotted 12 months? Are they considered miraculously no longer in need of support?

Monday, 14 November 2011

Maria Miller's lined up for promotion

Maria Miller's being lined up to become Secretary of State for Wales, if Cheryl Gillan, the current Secretary of State for Wales leaves.


I wonder who's being lined up to be Minister for Disabled People?

Monday, 7 November 2011

Petition from Carer Watch asking for Welfare Reform Bill's pausing

This is a really important petition - please read, sign, and share it as widely as you can.

"Stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families"


Friday, 4 November 2011

Letter to Maria Miller about media misrepresentation

Dear Maria Miller,

In your role as Minister for Disabled People you head the Office for Disability Issues, leading the government in matters that affect disabled people.

I would like to know what you do when:

- Your fellow ministers go on national radio sharing inaccurate information about disability benefits (Ian Duncan Smith recently went on Radio 4’s Today programme and talked about DLA as though it were an out of work benefit, and has spoken about non-means tested benefits as though they were means-tested.)

- National media reports on disability related matters using completely inaccurate statistics.

- National media reports on people claiming disability benefits using inaccurate examples and misleading statistics.

As someone that daily tries to work toward disabled people’s equality – I am disabled myself, I work for an organisation that works with disabled actors and artists, I have disabled family members and friends – I see the effects of public perceptions of disabled people as lead swingers and scroungers, and media misrepresentation encourages this.

As you are in a position to challenge this view on a country-wide scale, as compared to my very local levels of impact, I would expect you to be doing everything in your power to ensure disabled people are not repeatedly misrepresented by my fellow colleagues, or by national media.

I look forward to your response,

Yours sincerely


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

My petition wording submitted yesterday has been rejected, and I've received the following email:

Dear Robin (surname deleted),

Your e-petition "Minister for Disabled People to prove they are working toward equality." hasn't been accepted.

E-petitions cannot include information about honours or appointments.

Find information about nominations for honours at: http://www.direct.gov.uk/honours

The appointment of Ministers (including the Minister for Disabled People) is a matter for the Prime Minister.

If you'd like to submit a new e-petition, please read the site's terms and conditions which explain the rules in detail.


I need help submitting my third petition. I also need help to work out where I go from here.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Bloggers should talk to the wider world

Here's a fantastic post by Ron, on why bloggers need to do more than just talk to one another. Go, read it, and act!


E-petition - attempt number two

I'm submitting a second application to the epetitions site. It still needs to be approved by the epetitions moderators, so no one can sign it yet.

If this one isn't approved, I will need help wording my third submission.

Title: Minister for Disabled People to prove they are working toward equality.

Body: Our current Minister for Disabled People is overseeing massive changes in the welfare state that will negatively impact on Disabled People, is allowing the media to go unchallenged on producing smear stories and misinformation that undermine Disabled People's work towards equality, and is allowing public perceptions of disabled people as being "genuine" or "not genuine" to flourish.

I believe Maria Miller, current Minister for Disabled People is not fulfilling her role and as such is wasting taxpayer's money. Her effectiveness in her role should be independantly investigated.

Petition rejected

My e-petition asking for Maria Miller to be examined as to her effectiveness has been rejected.

The grounds for e-petition rejection are the following:

  • contain information which may be protected by an injunction or court order
  • contain material that is potentially confidential, commercially sensitive or which may cause personal distress or loss
  • include the names of individuals if they have been accused of a crime or information that may identify them
  • include the names of individual officials who work for public bodies, unless they are part of the senior management of those organisations
  • include the names of family members of elected representatives, eg MPs, or officials who work for public bodies
I do not believe my petition contravened any of the above points - it named Maria Miller as the Minister for Disabled People, and asked for her investigation, but she is part of senior management, as I understand it.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Article by Inclusion London


"Bad News for Disabled People – report reveals extent of media misrepresentation

A new study of how media are reporting disability in the context of government spending cuts reveals a major shift in how disabled people are portrayed and the negative impact this is having on public attitudes and on disabled people themselves."

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Welfare to Work policy 'casts the disabled as cheats'

From today's Guardian

Flagship initiative threatens safety of the disabled by suggesting that they are scroungers, say charities


First line is "Employment minister Chris Grayling has said he cannot prevent the publication of negative stories about benefit claimants"

What is Maria Miller doing about this?

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Disability Capital Conference report from Disabled People's Action Network


This tallies with my experience at the Disability Capital Conference, too.

Was anyone else there? What did you think?

Maria Miller not fulfilling role as Minister for Disabled People.

What should a Minister for Disabled People do?

- Work for disabled people's equality in society.

- Educate government ministers about disabled people's needs and rights.

- Understand the needs of disabled people.

- Speak out against the misrepresentation of disabled people in the media.

- Listen to disabled people.

- Be accountable to disabled people.

What does our current Minister for Disabled People do?

The Minister for Disabled People heads the Office for for Disability Issues, which describes their role "The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) leads the government’s vision of achieving equality for disabled people". http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/about-the-odi/index.php

Maria Miller is also responsible for " specific responsibilities within the Department for Work and Pensions which include Disability Living Allowance reform, reviewing the Independent Living Fund and specialist disability employment programmes." http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/about-the-odi/the-minister-for-disabled-people.php

As far as I've seen, our minister does the following:

- Allows newspapers to run inaccurate stories about "benefit scroungers" unchecked.

- Allows her colleagues to go on national radio and talk about Disability Living Allowance as though it were an out of work benefit, further reinforcing public misunderstanding of benefits.

- Is in charge of massive reform of Disability Living Allowance without adequately consulting with disabled people. The DWP consultation for the DLA reforms took place between the 6th of December to the 18th of February. That is 8 weeks for people to read and digest a 45 page document, and construct a response. Considering many disabled people may need support to access and understand this document, I don't think 8 weeks is a reasonable amount of time for such an important consultation.

- Responds to disabled people's letters about their concerns with form-letters that don't answer questions raised.

- Continues to allow a private company (ATOS) to be paid by the government to carry out assessments for benefit eligibility that have been shown to be inaccurate and unfair. ATOS assessors have found people to be "fit for work", who have died days after their assessments, and around 40% of people found "fit for work" have that decision overturned on appeal. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/23/government-reform-disability-benefits

I believe Maria Miller is falling short of her duties in her role as Minister for Disabled People, and as such should be removed from her role in the cabinet. I need you to send evidence so I can present this information to the committee that scrutinises the work of Maria Miller, to get her work examined thoroughly.

The Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Anne McGuire is critical of the smearing of people claiming sickness + disability benefits: http://www.bhfederation.org.uk/federation-news/item/1422-government-is-%E2%80%98talking-up%E2%80%99-benefit-fraud-says-shadow-minister.html