“We run your life, so you don’t have to” courtesy Gordon’s Good Idea
Latest update from Steve Donnison, Benefits and Work
18 August 2009
Save DLA & AA: the second task (Benefits and Work)
It’s been an extraordinary fortnight since this campaign began. So, apologies for the long email, but we want to get everyone caught up.
AA & DLA WON’T END ON 13 NOVEMBER
Firstly, we want to make it absolutely clear that AA and DLA are not going to be abolished on 13 November, because some people seem to have got that impression.
We’re asking you to make your voice heard before the green paper consultation period ends on 13 November because, if you don’t, it makes it much more likely that disability benefits will be handed over to local authorities at some time in the future.
EMAILING DISABILITY ORGANISATIONS
Over 19,000 people have now signed up to the campaign and last week disability charities were deluged with emails after we asked campaigners to contact them and ask what they are doing about this issue. So much so that after a few days we had to ask you to stop sending emails, as they were simply being met with standard responses and were very unlikely to even be being read.
But you got the message across in astonishing numbers and with extraordinary speed and effectiveness. It is very unlikely that there is a disability charity in the UK that is not highly aware of this issue and also aware that their members are watching how they deal with it. You can read more about this at:
We think it would be excellent if as many disability charities as possible were monitored over the coming months to check the degree to which they publicise this issue, consult with their members and respond to the green paper. It’s not something we have the resources to do here. But we’re hoping that groups of claimants with an interest in a particular charity might get together to do this.
The Carer Watch website below has made a forum available for anyone involved in this campaign to use for free, you don’t have to be a Benefits and Work member. You might want to try to meet up there with people with an interest in the same organisation.
CONTACT YOUR MP
This week we’re asking you to contact your MP and/or regional assembly member and ask them what they are going to do about this issue.
Once again, we’re not going to provide a standard letter because we think that will be taken a great deal less seriously than your personal opinions. But some of the things you might want to include are:
Tell your MP that you are concerned about proposals in the green paper to hand disability benefits over to local authorities.
Would the proposals make you less independent or affect your quality of life?
Ask them to ask the secretary of state for work and pensions to provide a precise list of which benefits may be affected now or at some time in the future. You might also want to ask for an explanation of why such unclear terms were used in the green paper when people’s future is at stake and they are supposedly being consulted with.
If your MP isn’t Labour, ask them what their party’s policy on this matter is.
Whatever party they belong to, ask them if they are prepared to give an assurance that they personally will vote against any plan to transfer funding from attendance allowance or disability living allowance to local authority control.
Would you vote for another party if you thought they would be less likely to cut your benefits? If so, tell your representative. – they may be interested to hear that.
You can write to your MP at their constituency office or at the House of Commons (though it may take longer to get a reply from there as MPs are on holiday at the moment) or use Write to Them which is also useful just for identifying who your representatives are:
WHERE TO SHARE YOUR REPLIES: CARER WATCH
Rather like the disability charities last week, we were completely overwhelmed by your emails. There’s no possibility of us being able to answer them all. However, if you’re a member, you can post information in our discussion forum at:
Whether you’re a member of Benefits and Work or not, you can also post in the Carer Watch forum below.
Although set up by carers, Carer Watch is being used by sick and disabled claimants as well. We’ve heard a lot from Carer Watch in recent weeks about the work they’ve done to try to get carers organisations to be more assertive in relation to benefits and to consult more with members and we’ve been very impressed, particularly as they are an entirely unfunded group.
They’ve set up a special forum for this campaign, you have to register to post, but it has the huge advantage that it’s entirely free:
We’ve also written a brief article about the kind of responses you’re likely to receive from your MP:
AND FINALLY . . .
Congratulations on what you’ve achieved so far. The campaign has grown so quickly and spread awareness of this issue so widely that we’ve dropped our original plan to send out an email with a new task each week. The idea of chipping away bit-by-bit at different disability agencies that we originally had no longer seems to make sense. But there will be more emails over the coming weeks – we have at least one more major task after this one – and we’ll be keeping people informed after that.
What would be really excellent now is if the realisation that there are many thousand of claimants out there who are able to get together and act for a common purpose could be translated into something longer lasting. There’s no point in a private sector company like ours trying to spearhead this – we are far too open to the accusation that we are only in it for the money.
Is it time for someone to revive the idea of a Claimant’s Union?
Please feel free to forward or publish this email.
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666
(c) 2009 Steve Donnison. All rights reserved.