Benefits Green Paper

22 10 2009

The recent Government Green Paper on Care Services in the UK is still causing concern to many people who are worried that this will mean the end of their entitlement to Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

There are only a few weeks left before the consultation period on the green paper ends – so See Hear are hoping to organise a question and answer session at the House of Commons next week, with an MP who will try their best to answer your questions.

If YOU are concerned about your future benefit entitlement, or want to find out more about what the green paper may mean for you, please email See Hear‘s forward planning producer: cynthia.charles @ bbc.co.uk with details of your name, address, age and background, along with a few words on why you’d like to take part in the question and answer session.

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Save DLA and AA – the first crucial task

11 08 2009

This post is an email sent from Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd.

Persuading disability charities to speak out against the threat to disability benefits is absolutely crucial. Unless leading agencies like Mind, Arthritis Care and the MS Society are prepared to openly oppose these proposals it will be very difficult to halt them. The government will be able to argue that they consulted with ‘stakeholder’ organisations and they supported the green paper.

So whether charities are swayed by the strength of your arguments or alarmed by the prospect of losing members who feel abandoned by them, it’s vital that they commit themselves to defending AA and DLA. So far only RNIB has been courageous enough to risk the wrath of six secretaries of state rather than desert its members.

So what we’re going to suggest you do today is to get in touch with a local or national disability organisation, preferably one that deals with a condition that affects you or someone you care for.

Even if all you can manage is a quick email saying:

‘What are you doing about the green paper plans to abolish some disability benefits?’

that will be enough to make them realise people are aware of, and concerned about, the issue.

But if you feel able to write in more detail, below are some of the points you may want to make. We haven’t written a standard letter or email for people to copy because we think that they may quickly be dismissed as just a sort of spam.

1 Explain very briefly that you are concerned about the proposals in the Shaping the Future of Care Together green paper to integrate some disability benefits into a new funding stream for a National Care Service

2 Explain why DLA care component or AA is important to you.

3 Point out that it’s vital that their organisation work with other disability charities to fight with you on this issue, because the government will find it hard to ignore a wide coalition of disability organisations.

4 Point out that RNIB have put a statement on their website saying they will oppose the scrapping of AA and other disability benefits and that if such a reputable organisation is prepared to do this then there’s no reason why every disability organisation can’t do the same.

5 You might want to explain that at the moment the campaign against abolishing disability benefits is being led by a private sector company and that you think this is highly inappropriate, it ought to be a coalition of charities leading the way.

6 You may also want to suggest that if charities look the other way as their members are deprived of a vital part of their income then it may result in charities getting a great deal less support, fewer members and fewer donations in the future.

7 Most important of all: ask for a reply. And if you don’t get one, keep going back until you do. And when you do, send us a copy and we’ll publish at least some of them. Or if you’re a Benefits and Work member, post the reply in the forum.

If you’d like to contact more than one charity, then members of the Disability Benefits Consortium are worth considering. This is a coalition of charities which “aims to lobby and campaign on welfare benefits as they relate to disabled people.” Clearly they are the people who should be running this campaign, rather than Benefits and Work.

You can find the email contact details for all these organisations on this page.

Another possibility is the members of the green paper stakeholder panel. There’s a list of the members here, though we haven’t had time to research email addresses – volunteers to do so would be very welcome.

If you want to be getting on with other things rather than waiting for next weeks’ email, then there’s a few suggestions here.

Thank you again for signing up to the No More Benefits Cuts campaign. At the time of writing you are one of an astonishing 13,815 people who have done so in less than a week.

Please feel free to forward or publish this.

(Steve Donnison)





No More Benefits Cut campaign update

6 08 2009

Emailed to me today:

Many thanks for joining the No More Benefits Cuts campaign.

We had an astonishing 5,245 people sign up in the first 24 hours of the campaign. I confess this has taken us rather by surprise: we thought it would take most of August just to get 1,000.

What happens next?

Over the coming months we’ll be sending out an email each week asking you to do one thing in relation to the campaign. It might be writing to your MP, submitting a response to the green paper, contacting a local disability group and so on.

The emails will be sent out each Tuesday morning with the first one being sent on Tuesday 11 August.

As new people sign up to the campaign they will receive the same emails in the same order that you received them. Once the 100 days are up the emails will stop.

We’ve already been contacted by literally hundreds of people about the campaign and in truth it’s already started without us. Lots of you have been posting on forums, contacting your MPs, writing to papers, emailing TV and radio programmes and generally making an enormous fuss.

Thanks again. And, until next Tuesday, please keep up the good work – you don’t really need us at all.

Best regards,

Steve Donnison
Keep up to date with the no more cuts campaign.

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN ON FACEBOOK

– Actually, I wish the captioned telephony campaign would take off like this, with more and more deaf people clamouring for our rights….. come on, join that one too! All you have to do is write to your MP and tell them how much it would benefit you, and ask them to sign the EDM currently tabled in Parliament. And tell everyone about it!





100 days to save DLA & AA from the axe

5 08 2009

Claimants have just 100 days to prevent their DLA (Disability Living Allowance) and AA (Attendance Allowance) being abolished.

A government green paper has revealed proposals to stop paying ‘disability benefits, for example, attendance allowance’’ and hand the cash over to social services instead.

Under the plan, current claimants would have their disability benefits converted to a ‘personal budget’ administered by local authorities and used to pay for services – not to spend as they wish.

Once the green paper consultation period ends in 100 days time, if an almighty row has not been raised, it is likely that both major political parties will see the lack of outrage as a green light to end both DLA and AA.

We’re looking for a minimum of 1,000 claimants, carers and support workers to join our campaign to save these benefits from being abolished.

Find out how you can take part from THIS LINK.

We know that many people will take false comfort from the fact that, unlike AA, DLA is not specifically named as being for the axe. But if the government was planning only to abolish AA it is extremely unlikely that they would refer constantly throughout the green paper to ‘disability benefits’, a term which includes not just AA but also DLA.

Others will dismiss this as just another idle discussion document and our concerns as scare mongering.

But it’s much more than that.

36 meetings have already been organised around the country for people working in government and the caring professions to meet to be told about the setting up of a new National Care Service which would oversee the system. In addition, a stakeholders panel of more than 50 voluntary sector organisations, trades unions and academics has been established to offer advice to the government.

Some organisations and individuals, such as RNIB and welfare rights worker Neil Bateman writing for Community Care magazine, have already voiced their alarm.

But not every disability organisation is opposed to the proposals and some even agree with them.

In a press release, Disability Alliance has welcomed the publication of the green paper and said that it ‘looks forward to working alongside Government and all the other stakeholders in bringing these plans into fruition.’ They have even said that they agree that there is a case for ‘integrating disability benefits such as attendance allowance’ into the new system.

One thing everyone does seem to agree on is that huge cuts in public spending will have to take place in the next few years as a result of the credit crunch and global recession.

Political parties are desperately looking for the softest targets to be the victims of these cuts. Dismissing the green paper’s proposals as hot air and not worth worrying about could be the costliest mistake you ever make.

Find out more about the proposed abolition of DLA and AA and how you can join our campaign to fight back HERE.

Source: Benefits and Work
(c) 2009 Steve Donnison

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN ON FACEBOOK





Free energy saving products worth £54.98

14 07 2009

If you receive Disability Living Allowance you can get a free standby saver (£19.99) and electricity monitor (£34.99) from British Gas. Simply enter the code EF3 and you will need your benefits reference number (this could be your national insurance number).

Source: HotUKDeals
Thanks to Alison Bryan for the link.





Changes to CEA Card scheme

17 04 2009

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If you’re registered blind or in receipt of Disability Living Allowance / Attendance Allowance, you can obtain a CEA card for £5.50, entitling you to a free cinema ticket for someone accompanying you to the cinema. 90% of UK cinemas support this scheme. You can download an application form HERE. Check if your cinema is participating in the scheme HERE.

There will be changes to the CEA Card scheme from 1 March 2009. All CEA Cards issued after 1 March 2009 will have a period of validity of one year, instead of the current three years. Additionally, a new set of terms and conditions will apply.

CINEMA EXHIBITORS’ ASSOCIATION CARD – NEW TERMS & CONDITIONS

General

1. The CEA Card is issued by The Card Network on behalf of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA) and remains the property of the CEA. Any participating cinema operator reserves the right not to honour the CEA Card or to retain it where they have reason to believe it is being misused or used outside of the terms and conditions set out in this document.

2. In applying for the CEA Card, a person is deemed to have fully accepted the terms and conditions set out in this document. Where a cardholder is suspected of wilfully contravening these terms and conditions, the CEA or any participating cinema reserves the right to retain the card pending further investigation.

3. The terms and conditions set out in this document, its use or concessions are not materially affected by the cardholder’s possession of any other disability- or age-related pass or permit.

Terms of use

4. The CEA Card will not be valid unless it displays a photograph of the cardholder. The Card is not transferable and only the cardholder shall be entitled to use it. Any participating cinema operator reserves the right to ask for some additional form of identification from the cardholder. Where it is suspected that a card is being used fraudulently, the cinema operator reserves the right to retain the card pending further investigation.

5. The CEA Card allows the cardholder to obtain ONE free ticket for a person to provide assistance required as a result of the cardholder’s disability during their visit to the cinema, provided that a full price ticket is purchased by the cardholder for the same film. In providing a free ticket for another person to assist them during their visit, the cinema is offering one way of meeting its duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for the cardholder under the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

6. The free ticket will be provided on the assumption that the person accompanying the cardholder is able to provide appropriate assistance. Illustrative examples of such assistance might include the ability to assist the cardholder in an emergency evacuation of the cinema, accompany and/or assist the cardholder in using the cinema’s washrooms and so on. For that reason the presumption will be that the person accompanying the cardholder should be aged 16 years or over. However the cinema operator reserves the right to make a judgement on the ability of any person to assist the cardholder during their visit to the cinema, and to refuse the provision of a free ticket where it deems it appropriate.

7. One cardholder cannot benefit from the free ticket provided to another cardholder. In all cases, one full price ticket must be bought for each free ticket allowed. The cinema operator reserves the right to make other arrangements for two or more cardholders attending the cinema together.

8. Use of the card is not limited during its period of validity, provided that on each occasion the cardholder observes the terms and conditions set out in this document.

9. Use of this card does not give cardholders any additional rights of entry compared to those enjoyed by non-card holders, apart from those set out in these terms and conditions. Use of the card will be constrained in terms of programming and cinema capacity for a cardholder as they are for any paying customer.

Period of validity

10. The CEA card is valid for a period of one year from the date of issue. This validity date must be clearly legible at all time on the card, as should all other information present on the day of issue. Cinemas reserve the right to not accept or to retain any Card where any details are no longer legible.

Renewal or loss

11. On expiry of the CEA Card, or where a card has been lost, or where it is no longer legible, a full new application, including the administrative charge, must be submitted to the Card Network.

Appeals

12. Where a cardholder has reason to appeal the limits placed on the use of his or her CEA Card, or to question the actions of a participating cinema operator, this appeal will be made in the first instance to The Card Network.

Further information

13. Further information on the CEA Card, including a list of participating cinemas, can be found at CEA Card





Confused about benefits?

3 09 2008

Do you need to claim for

    Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
    Incapacity Benefit
    Employment and Support Allowance

It’s a minefield and the forms are legendary for their complexity and stupid questions.

I discovered a useful website which gives advice on completing these nightmare forms. Check out Benefits and Work.

This site has a forum and free newsletter. They provide guides to these benefits at £18.95 – it’s worth it if you’re claiming for the first time, you’ve been turned down, or are not getting what you think you’re entitled to. They also provide training.