The following statistics were collected using the freedom of information act, as people’s circumstances change figures will fluctuate, so please note these figures were all obtained in April/May/June 2013 the first quarter after bedroom tax was implemented.
The Borough of Poole has 635 households affected by the bedroom tax, 420 of which live in Poole Housing Partnership properties. So how have the 420 households in PHP properties fared – 160 have paid – 30 have moved – 230 now have higher arrears than at the start of the year – no eviction procedures have begun owing to bedroom tax arrears.
Perhaps to downsize is preferable to getting into arrears – surely that is the aim of the bedroom tax. 231 households need a one bedroom property; php currently has 27 empty one bedroom properties. 165 need a two bedroom property; php currently has 13 empty two bedroom properties. That figure excludes waiting lists for those not already in social housing.
Surely rather than letting tenants already on a means tested benefit fall into arrears lots of tenants will be able to get help from the council in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments – so how many people are Poole awarding this payment to, from the 635 households affected. 35 cases have received a DHP which meets their shortfall in full and 8 cases have received a DHP which covers part of the shortfall.
Well how about exchanging properties, oh wait you cannot exchange while you have arrears, even if you could find a suitable person to swap with.
Bournemouth Borough Council were unable to provide the amount of information that Poole did, as “This would take 5-10 minutes per case to establish answers to your questions”.
However we did find out the bedroom tax affects 589 households 336 of which are local authority owned and approximately 84 households had received discretionary housing payments to meet part/full shortfall in their rent. 8 households have downsized and no eviction procedures have begun owing to bedroom tax arrears.
At a time when almost one million carers, older, disabled and sick people are not receiving the care and support they need, the Care Bill is currently meandering its way through the chambers of Westminster. It is described as:
A Bill to reform the law relating to care and support for adults and the law relating to support for carers, to make provision about safeguarding adults from abuse or neglect, to make provision about care standards, to establish and make provision about Health Education England, to establish and make provision about the Health Research Authority, and for connected purposes.
The aims of the bill are:
- Create a cap on care costs
- Extend the current means test threshold for financial assistance
- Ensure nobody has to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for residential care
- It will merge sixty years of care and support law into a single Act, which according to the government will be “built around the person not the service”
- Enshrine in law the right for carers in England to receive support from their local council
- Ensure that people requiring care can be moved between local authority areas without fear that their care will be interrupted
- Provide a new legal entitlement for everyone to a personal budget , which they can opt to receive as a direct payment to give them more control where desired
- Clarify in law what protection will be put in place to ensure care is not disrupted if a care provider goes out of businesses
- Establish Health Education England and the Health Research Authority as non-departmental public bodies, to give them the independence to carry out their roles
With the principle of introducing a capped cost social care partnership model set out in the Care Bill, the next step will be to resolve the Pandora’s box of issues that need to be resolved in time for April 2016. From then on, people’s qualifying social care costs could count towards reaching the cap of £72,000, after which the state will help towards the cost of the person’s care.
Concerns about the Bill
The heads of 38 leading charities including Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society, Scope and the British Red Cross, have sent a letter to the Prime Minister warning that a change in how needs are assessed could strip 135,000 frail and vulnerable people in England of state-funded care on which they currently rely.
The charities have warned David Cameron that almost 900,000, who already have to pay if they want help with basic tasks such as washing and dressing, would not be able to benefit from a cap on the cost of care.
They say that the Care and Support Bill, which will usher in a cap on the cost of care to prevent people being forced to sell homes, should transform the system for future generations. But they add that they are now “seriously concerned” that when the final details of how the system is to be implemented are worked out, huge numbers of frail, elderly people will still be left without any help with their care.
Under the current system, only elderly people with assets, including their family home, worth less than £23,500 get help with the cost of care. Even then, only those deemed to have the greatest physical needs qualify.
Those are assessed on a four-point scale ranging from “low” to “critical” with just people above a threshold — decided by local social services – getting help.
In recent years, with funds squeezed, councils have tightened up criteria, meaning that in most areas only those deemed to have “substantial” needs qualify — usually meaning they can no longer live on their own.
Concerns about Assessments and the private providers
Another area of major concern is a part of the Bill introducing a national assessment framework to assess people’s eligibility for care, and also to have the associated costs count towards the cap. This gives local authorities the power to contract out the assessment process of people – to determine how bad their care needs are and what services they might need.
Over the last few years we have seen similar processes adopted via Work Capability Assessments (WCA) of the disabled and sick with contracts awarded to companies such as Atos. If you are aware of these assessments, no doubt, you will also be aware of the hundreds of accounts of people who are clearly unable to work due to health problems being declared “fit for work”.
Even if we are to take the giant leap of ignorance and put aside the obvious injustices suffered by many, many individuals, the use of companies like Atos being used to assess the needs of care raises many concerns, including:
Dr Greg Wood, a former Royal Navy doctor, resigned from Atos in May after working as an assessor for the company for two-and-a-half years. He said said the system was “skewered against the claimant”. He also stated that a number of the tests were staged in such a way as to find people fit for work and an excuse cutting their benefits.
Last year Atos – which in total earns £1.6billion in Government contracts – ‘won’ a government contact, worth £184 million, for London and the South of England on the promise of a tender stating that it had a network of 740 assessment sites across this area.
However the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has now admitted that Atos only has “up to” 108 centres available that meet its requirements.
The boss of Atos, Thierry Breton, has been awarded a £280,000 pay rise after his firm helped to heap misery on thousands of disabled people who are deemed fit for work. His total package of pay, bonuses and perks is now £2,329,250. For the same period in 2011, Breton received £2,049,250.
The parent company of Atos is American based “Unum Provident”, a company that makes its cash selling sickness insurance policies. Their “medicals” have been declared illegal in the states and branded “disability denial factories”.
Part of the WCA process is that people are allowed to seek advice and take another person with them to the interview. However there have been numerous accounts that this right is often challenged or refused at Atos centres. At an assessment centre in Liverpool recently, Atos staff called the police to remove a demonstration that was “threatening and upsetting people”. It subsequently transpired the ‘demonstration’ consisted of 2 Councillors handing out leaflets giving advice to people attending assessments and the Atos staff also refused to carry out an assessment after a person being assessed requested one of the ‘demonstrators’ to attend the ‘medical’ with them.
We all need to ask ourselves, would we entrust the determination of our own care needs, or those of our parents, to companies such as Atos? And at the same time we must remind ourselves, and make everyone aware, that hundreds of thousands of disabled and sick people have already had this inflicted upon them and suffered the utter despair and injustice that goes with it.
Care Bill [HL] 2013-14 – Parliament.uk
Million ‘at risk’ from Care Bill – Telegraph
DWP finally reveals ‘shocking’ number of Atos PIP assessment sites – The Fed Online
Fury as boss of Atos gets £280k pay rise while thousands of Scots are plunged into poverty by their benefits assessment tests – Daily Record
Queen’s Speech 2013: Care bill – Politics.co.uk
Police called after welfare experts offer advice to disabled ahead of Atos sickness benefit assssments – Liverpool Echo
Stop Atos Work Capability Assessments
Video – Filming of an ESA Assessment Carried Out by French Firm ATOS
Video – Simon Hickmans Atos assessment
The Hardest Hit
How To Deal With Benefits Medical Examinations
Victory as judges rule controversial disability benefits procedure is unfair
Campaigners and supporters of the NHS took part in a celebration of its 65th Birthday outside Poole Hospital. They were joined by patients, thanked by staff and received hundreds of ‘Honks’ from passing traffic in response to a sign reading ‘ Honk to Save the NHS’. The celebration was called by Bournemouth and Poole Anti Cuts Coalition in order to take some time out to celebrate the wonderful achievements of our NHS over the last 65 years and to highlight the threat the Tory led Coalition is to the wonderful service continuing.
Stewart MacArthur of Poole and Bournemouth Anti – Cuts Coalition said “The NHS has given us improved life chances, security in times of need, pioneering treatment, and care, life without the NHS is hard to imagine. Three years of this coalition government has seen the dismantling, the selling off, the privatisation of the NHS…and the next 65 Years could look very different.
Throughout the country members of the public and medics are extremely concerned at the privatisation route this government has chosen for the NHS, campaigners are adamant a USA insurance system is slowly being introduced. The recent move to set up a system whereby migrants are to pay towards treatment is a way to have the pay system in place within the NHS ready for top up fees and insurances and is the beginning of a slippery slope whereby other sectors of society will be asked to contribute. This should be a huge concern to all of us and we owe it to future generations to fight for the free health service we have all had the privilege of.”
65 fascinating facts about our glorious health service
At the end of June, the Department for Work and Pensions will be releasing their Annual Report.
Iain Duncan Smith and his hench-ministers will no doubt be touring the TV studios to deliver more propaganda about worklessness and disability.
The report outlines 35 cases where Ministerial claims using statistics on the subject of Work and Benefits have fallen short of the standards expected of Government Ministers. DPAC believe that this demonstrates a consistent pattern of abuse of official statistics by Ministers of the present Government to paint a false picture of benefit claimants in the UK in support of policies which are aimed at cost cutting to the detriment of jobless, sick and disabled people.Within the document, each case is presented, and fully referenced to source material throughout.
When you next see Iain Duncan Smith on the TV News, ask yourself – is he lying? or is he simply making it up out of thin air again?
We’ve decided that he’s lying.
DPAC is a grass roots campaign body. It was formed by a group of disabled people after the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people held on the 3rd October in Birmingham 2010, England. It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest. DPAC has over 15,000 members and supporters and works with many anti-cuts groups, Universities, Disabled Peoples’ Organizations, and Unions
The peoples assembly 2013 – an account by Natasha Allen
Why Austerity is a Concern to us All
Over 4000 people, united against austerity joined together at Westminster Hall on Saturday for a day of discussions and ideas on how we can involve more people in our fight against planned poverty, oops sorry, austerity.
I attended a talk on how we can get the message out about what our government is doing to us with these so called austerity measures and what we can do about it. We need to get people to come together, the cuts affect us all and we have to protect our children and our grandchildren from the consequences of these cuts. We need to “give up on the differences and look towards what we agree on”, we are part of a community who are meant to care about each other, we are all suffering so we need to come together and fight for change, when did people stop caring? What’s happened to community spirit? We should be looking out for each other and loving our neighbours, not just walking on by without a thought for anyone else. Have people made a conscious decision to be selfish?
I thought I would get the answer on how to bring us all together at the People’s Assembly, but then I realised there isn’t one. I believe the only answer is with the people; all coming together to fight against austerity that we know is only affecting the vulnerable, weak, poor and disabled. Its way past the point of ignorance now, everyone knows what is going on. It all comes down to whether you care. If you don’t care – why not? Are you that important that you will never need to use the NHS, the schools, the roads etc and obviously your bin never needs emptying!
Another discussion I attended was about immigration and how the media portrays Muslims. It has been said that if immigration continues we would need to build 17 more cities which is just an example of the rubbish that gets said. The left has been far too quiet on immigration and the bile being spouted. Immigration control is class based and only about money. If you’re not rich enough, you can’t come in, only the brightest and the best are welcome. If you get married outside of the EU you have to pay £18,600 for your spouse to enter the UK. Theresa May has now put a price tag on love!! Immigrants are treated as victims who have no rights.
There are 2.5 million Muslims living in the UK, they are peaceful people who want to live in the wider communities and be a part of society, but the media don’t want to see the good, and it’s caused a backlash against the Muslim community. The police call hate crime against Muslims anti-social behaviour, which has caused mistrust in the community and against the police. Muslims are living in fear and don’t want to go out on the streets, this can’t be right. Its 2013 and we all have a right to go about our daily lives in peace without any fear of being attacked. There are a small minority who cause trouble, as there are everywhere, but to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few is the same as blaming all white British people for the actions of the EDL. Don’t judge people, go and see for yourself.
History proves that when we are in a recession you will see a rise in racism. In WW1 when Germany had an economic collapse there was a rise in Nazi’s. We should not be surprised, it is no coincidence, it is just a classic way of dividing and weakening the working class. There is nothing to be gained about conceding to myths, all it does is feeds the likes of UKIP. Immigrants haven’t caused low wages, it’s the predatory employers who have. Without successive immigrants there would be no NHS, they take far less out of the system than they put in.
We will not let racism and fascism divide us, and we stand out and oppose any racist and fascist groups. WE are the majority and we oppose any attempts to demonise and destroy us. Islamophobia is the cause of the right wing groups and we must stand united against them. We are not going to ignore the EDL coming to our town, when Muslims are under attack we all are. We remain united against Islamophobia and racism, it’s not welcome in our town!
Protests are really good fun, we are a family friendly group at bpacc.co.uk who protest peacefully. We use a lot of creativity and humour in our demonstrations and it’s a great day out for a very important cause. You really feel like you are doing something for the good, you know that you’re making a difference and you are representing the people that are unable to protest for themselves. Someone has to help them, I know I can’t sit and watch and do nothing, to me it’s morally wrong and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing how much people are suffering everywhere. The time for doing nothing is over, it’s time for action!
See you on the streets.
Meet on the pavement by the main entrance steps to Poole General Hospital from 6pm on Friday 5th July.
The NHS will be 65 years old on the 5th July 2013. Take some time out to celebrate the wonderful achievements of our NHS over the last 65 years. And to highlight it’s biggest threat since its founding.
The NHS has given us improved life chances, security in times of need, pioneering treatment, and care, life without the NHS is hard to imagine. Three years of this coalition government has seen the dismantling, the selling off, the privatisation of the NHS… and the next 65 Years could look very different. Help be part of the celebration of what we have had, and show our intentions to defend it against government cuts.
Bring a banner, placard, cake, flask, balloon,flowers, tributes, and highlight our NHS for the good it’s done and the threat it’s under.