|Government loses UC appeals against severely disabled claimants
The Court of Appeal has dismissed the Government’s appeals against two previous court judgments which found that it had unlawfully discriminated against thousands of severely disabled people who moved onto Universal Credit (UC).
The ruling upholds two successful High Court challenges brought by TP and AR, in which the courts found that individuals previously in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium and Enhanced Disability Premium are to be protected against a drop in their income when they move onto UC. More here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/january/dwp-loses-severe-disability-premium-case
DWP drops anxiety-inducing call-hold music
The DWP has dropped the short burst of Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons it has been using as call waiting music after over a decade of claims that it exacerbated anxiety for many of the people who had to use its phone lines. More here: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/02/dwp-drops-vivaldis-four-seasons-as-helplines-on-hold-music
Wheelchair user denied PIP after walking four steps
A wheelchair user was stripped of Personal Independent Payments after walking just four steps during an assessment. Michelle Wyatt, who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was left to survive on £1 ready meals and with no heating after her benefits were stopped.
A spokesperson from Disability Rights UK said: “Hundreds of thousands of disabled people have lost out since the introduction of PIP; this at a time when austerity and other cuts have made day-to-day life more difficult for disabled people.
“We strongly urge people to get advice when they are claiming benefits, and to use the independent appeals process if they are turned down for benefits they think they are entitled to.” The DWP has since restored her benefits. More here: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disabled-woman-wheelchair-assessment-pip-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-dwp-a9311266.html
BBC Red Button decision postponed until Spring
The BBC has called a halt to its decision to scrap parts of its Red Button service. Responding to a campaign by the National Federation of the Blind UK, supported by DR UK, Tony Hall said: “People have expressed their concern that the closure of the Red Button text service could negatively affect elderly people and people with disabilities.
“These are issues which I feel deserve to be explored in more depth… so we have decided to suspend its closure pending further work in that area.”
Lord Hall said the service would continue “as close as possible to its current state for the time being”.
DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “We are delighted common sense has prevailed and the BBC has listened to disabled people. This is a great example of disabled people of all impairments working together and shows how we can bring about change.” More here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-51295430
Notts Council cuts breached Care Act – Ombudsman
Nottinghamshire County Council breached the Care Act by cutting a disabled man’s care budget by a third.
Ombudsman Michael King said: “In this case the council reduced the man’s care package so he had to fund the shortfall from his benefits, which even then were not enough. His parents had little choice but to cover the cost of this, despite their son’s level of care having not changed in more than 12 years. More here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/january/notts-council-cuts-breached-care-act-ombudsman
Statutory Sick Pay must change, says Mind
Mental Health charity Mind is calling on the government to introduce a fairer sick pay system, which kicks in from the first day an employee is off sick, and which is in line with minimum wage. https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/statutory-sick-pay/. You can support Mind’s campaign by signing its open letter here: https://action.mind.org.uk/sign-our-open-letter
Rail replacement services shunted back for disabled passengers
The Minister of State for Transport Chris Heaton-Harris has written to the Rail Delivery Group extending the period of non-accessibility compliance for buses and coaches performing rail replacement duties.
Train companies must:
*Source and use compliant vehicles wherever possible in the first instance
*Only use non-complaint vehicles that have been granted a special authorisation when other options have been exhausted
*Provide alternative accessible transport for disabled passengers when no compliant vehicle is available.
The letter says that arrangements must be made in advance during planned engineering works to ensure alternative accessible transport is readily available.
A spokesperson from DR UK said: “It’s disgraceful that yet again disabled people are made to wait to get access.”
Sustainable Development Goals
UKSSD (UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development) is supporting organisations to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the UK by 2030. These goals are important to everyone’s wellbeing. Of particular relevance to disabled people are the goals on good health and wellbeing, poverty, reduced inequalities, and sustainable cities and communities. UKSSD has produced a brief for the Prime Minister on his role in delivering the agenda. More here: http://bit.ly/PMaction