Archive for ‘Disability’

May 28, 2017

Green party candidates slam unfair treatment of older people

adult-social-careGreen Party candidates, Sonia Hyner and Clive Gregory, have been highly critical of measures proposed by the Tory Party to pay for social care which they claim are a tax on illness.

The Tory Manifesto says that older people requiring care in their own homes would have to meet the costs out of the equity tied up in their homes but would be allowed to keep the first £100,000. This is a change from current arrangements in which the cut-off was lower at £23,250 but did not include the value of people’s homes.  Under the new proposal home owners would be able to continue living in their homes until the end of their lives at which point the social care payments and premiums owed to equity insurance companies would become payable.  As a result of public reaction, the Conservative party changed this policy on Monday, four days after it was included in their manifesto, to include a cap on how much individuals would pay in social care, but have not stated the level of the cap.

Sonia Hyner, Green Party candidate for Rochester and Strood, says:
“The Tories are really hitting vulnerable older people this time round.  These unfair proposals mean that those who are fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age without needing social care don’t have to pay anything into the system and get to pass on their homes to their children or grandchildren. However this is denied to others who need social care as the result of disabilities which could be the result of a stroke or having developed dementia. It is basically a tax on illness.  The panic induced change on Monday to include a cap on the amount paid offers no guarantee that people’s homes will be safe from this unfair policy.

“A much fairer way of contributing to the costs of social care would be one which spreads the risk such as an increase in inheritance tax or progressive taxation.  The NHS contains the principles of sharing costs across the population so that no one has to fear financial penalties from being ill and the same principles should be applied to social care.  The Green Party would ensure that social care for the over 65s is provided free at the point of delivery just like the NHS”.

Clive Gregory, Green Party candidate for Gillingham and Rainham, adds:
“This proposal is yet another in a long line of asset grabs by the financial and global corporate sectors facilitated by Tory and Tory led governments and the Blair led Labour government.  Whether it is selling off our public services, PFIs, bailing out the banks or arranging private financial “help” which will take away the modest assets we have worked for all our lives; they all end up with us having to work harder for less.  The only beneficiaries of these proposals would be the banks and equity firms”.

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November 19, 2014

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett urges Rochester and Strood voters to vote for hope not fear

On the eve of the Rochester and Strood by-election, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has today urged Rochester and Strood voters to vote for the positive choice of Green Party candidate Clive Gregory.

Bennett said:

“Clive has been saying clearly to the voters that he understands they are struggling in our economy of low wages and insecure employment, with high housing costs and NHS facilities that are struggling to cope.

“But while other parties have been scapegoating immigrants and immigration, Clive has been identifying the reasons why so many are struggling: the failure to curb our fraud-ridden, risk-taking, overly large financial sector, the loss of council homes to Right to Buy and failure to build the affordable housing we need, the underfunding of the NHS and the disruption caused to it by this government’s privatisation agenda.

“And I know from my visit to the constituency how many voters have valued Clive and the Green Party’s consistent resistance to the Lodge Hill development.”

Commenting on recent campaign events, Bennett added:

“It was frankly hypocritical of Yvette Cooper to complain about the ‘arms race of rhetoric’ on immigration yesterday, while making a speech focused on tightening up control of borders.

“A couple of days before the Rochester and Strood by-election, the Labour party could have been announcing plans to make the minimum wage a Living Wage, or to end ‘right to buy’ to stop the bleeding away of the public resource of social housing. Or they could have been announcing their abandonment of the Work Capability Assessment that has plagued the lives of so many disabled and ill people.

“Instead, like the Tory candidate in Rochester and Strood by-election, who listed ‘immigration’ as her top issue, Ms Cooper has chosen to chase after Ukip and try to out-do it, rather than tackle the real causes of the struggle and insecurity faced by so many millions of households in Britain today.

“Only the Green Party candidate, Clive Gregory, with the ballot paper strap line ‘say no to racism’, is taking on Ukip head-on, exposing its damaging, dangerous misinformation.”

August 22, 2013

Press Release: Medway Greens out in Force to Petition against Bedroom Tax Evictions

IMAG0154 (1)Medway Greens organise petition in Rochester.

Medway Greens were in Rochester High Street on Saturday 13th July to collect signatures from local people in support of their ongoing campaign against evictions due to the “bedroom tax”, a charge levied on households classed as under-occupied.

Trish Marchant, Medway Green Party Co-ordinator commented:

“Despite the scorching weather and, for some, Victorian attire which was unsuitable for the weather conditions, we had an excellent turnout of members to support our campaign. We have already collected many signatures towards our petition which will call on Medway Council to vow not to evict people who are unable to pay the bedroom tax”.

Trish added:

“A small minority refused to sign as they were in favour of the tax, but it seems they don’t realise that it’s working families and disabled people who are being hit the most. There were also a number of residents who shared their own stories. One lady said that her sister has to have a carer stay overnight regularly to administer some form of treatment, but that she has to pay the tax as the second bedroom, where the carer sleeps, is classed as spare”.

The Medway Green Party will be organising more petition stalls over the coming few months, with the next one planned at Chatham High Street, date to be announced.

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ENDS

Medway Green Party can be found at:

1.      http://medway.greenparty.org.uk

2.      https://medwaygreenparty.wordpress.com

3.      https://twitter.com/medwaygreens

4.      https://www.facebook.com/medway.greens

April 3, 2013

Press Release: Medway Greens Respond to Welfare Assault

Medway Greens were at the public meeting organised by Medway Against the Cuts (MAC) as the full tirade of assault due to be inflicted on Medway residents was revealed.

During the meeting, held at the Sunlight Centre in Gillingham, presentations delivered by representatives of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, and Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) highlighted the full effect of the changes due to come into effect this week, as a result of the Welfare Reform Bill which came into operation on 1st April.

Trish Marchant, Medway Green Party Co-ordinator commented:

“The devastating effects will hit local people and families who are already struggling. Medway has the highest level of debt in Kent and the South East, with the CAB being contacted by 36,000 people a year, 12.5% of the local population. Seventy families a week are in the process of having their homes repossessed. For each repossession, people are allowed only five minutes to try and persuade the magistrate to let them keep their homes.”

Amongst the various changes, local authority housing tenants are due to be affected by the bedroom tax which, because of a lack of available small homes, means that people are likely to be hit by a 14% cut in their housing benefit for having one “spare bedroom”, a 25% cut for having two. Larger families will be affected by having their benefits capped. People on low incomes will be affected by the 1% rise in benefits, a cut in real terms. Those who have previously received 100% rebates in Council Tax, due to their low levels of income, will now have to pay 25% of the Council Tax bill.

Trish Marchant continued:

“All these extra amounts are a lot for people to find, especially when they are already struggling. There has been little thought of how these cuts might affect children. It was chilling to learn that the most shoplifted item at present is baby milk”.

Trish added:

“We are already in the position where food vouchers are being issued from 70 places in Medway, up from a handful just a few years ago, to people who can’t even afford to eat. It is frightening to imagine what these additional assaults on income will do to local people. Many will end up having to resort to loan sharks, and payday loan companies, making the already appalling debt burden even worse. At least in Medway we have the alternative of the Medway Credit Union in Chatham which gives local people a fighting chance to save and borrow”.

In addition to these changes, there are those which specifically affect ill and disabled people including the reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which is to be replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This new allowance will be more difficult to access leaving many people unable to pay for the extra costs of having a disability. Furthermore, whereas there has been a recent change that allows families with disabled children exemption from paying the bedroom tax, as a result of their additional space needs, this is not automatic. It has to be fought for on a case by case basis.

Trish commented:

“All of these factors are an added assault on families with disabled children and adults both in work and unable to work because of illness and disability. This is often on top of the worry caused by being subjected to poorly thought out assessments by the private company Atos. It certainly can’t be good for people who are already unwell or restricted to have to go through all this additional stress”.

Trish continued:

“And yet none of this needs to happen. Rather than claiming back from those who caused the problem in the first place, the rich and greedy bankers, the government are attempting to force the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society to pay, people who don’t even have the means to pay. The welfare bill is large but the vast majority is paid to pensioners and none of us would like to see that taken away. The remainder is a catch all that is the bedrock of our hard won welfare state. We should think hard before we let it get demolished by this short term government of rich and vested interests. The Green Party believes that people should have their basic needs met as a matter of right. We also believe in an equal society. A fairer distribution of resources would provide benefits for all.”

March 10, 2013

ConDem Welfare Cuts hit Medway, and disabled hit hardest by Trish Marchant

ImageLast week Medway Against the Cuts (MAC) hosted the first of their public meetings, at White Road Community Centre, specifically about the changes to benefits. Pete Morton from MAC chaired the debate with speakers Steve Wilkins from MAC, who summarised the effects the changes will have on those living in social housing and Ellen Clifford, from Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC)

Ellen told the group “400,000 disabled people are expected to lose their Employment and Support Allowance benefit by 2013/14 despite having paid National Insurance contributions, the coalition government claims that an estimated £1 billion a year will be saved. There is evidence that the Atos assessments which precede the loss of ESA has been linked to with the deaths of disabled people. A Freedom Of Information request in October found the weekly figure for people dying/taking their lives after being found fit to take part in work related activity following an Atos assessment was 73. Its a disgusting trend.”

A commission led by the Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson found that 450,000 disabled people and their families could lose up to £58 a week under the coalition’s Universal Credit Reform – cuts so deep that one in 10 disabled households with children fear they might lose their home, with many struggling to pay for basic essentials such as food and heating. There are other problems with UC including the fact that it will be an on-line assessment whereas only 61 percent of disabled households have access to the internet (compared to 86% non-disabled).
Steve Wilkins explained how the bedroom tax, the governments under-occupancy rules, will force many people into further poverty through loss of some part of their housing benefit. Steve said ” This is an attack on the poor and nothing the government has said justifies this move to force people out of their homes. Its not as if those in social housing will be able to move round the corner to a smaller property so not only will they lose their homes but they will be forced out of their communities. Previous governments have made sure that social housing stock is a rare commodity, through right to buy and lack of investment. The bedroom tax will force people out into the private rented market, which is currently not affected by the tax, so in the end there will be no saving as private rents are higher.”Ellen added “Of the 660,000 it is estimated will be affected by the Bedroom Tax nationally, 420,000 are disabled. Amendments to the bill were put through the House of Lords to make some groups exempt but the government overturned that amendment. So the under occupancy penalty will also affect disabled people, foster carers, and families with sons and daughters serving in the armed forces who used a bedroom when on leave

The closure of the Independent Living Fund will result in a loss of support for disabled people with high support needs and could mean forced moves into residential care. The Fund was closed to new applicants in December 2010 and is currently still received by around 18,000 disabled people with complex needs.

Ellen told the meeting “the cuts to benefit target people in poverty, disabled people and their families. By 2015 social care in England will have been cut by £8 billion, a cut of 33%. Benefits for disabled people and the poorest will also have been cut by £18 billion with disabled people bearing 29% of all cuts and those with the severest disabilities 15%. These cuts are not fair, they marginalise those in our society who need the most support.”

On Saturday 9th March the Benefits Justice Campaign will be hosting a conference in London to link up all those opposed to the benefits cuts. Meanwhile Medway Against the Cuts will be holding further public meetings to discuss the upcoming changes, the next one is planned for Tuesday 26th March at the Sunlight Centre in Gillingham from 7:30 to 9pm.

September 12, 2012

Mental Health for All by Involving All

A TEDTalk by Vikram Patel which is relevant to developing and developed countries.

The TED web site covers a range of subjects and is well worth visiting.

David M. Davison

July 4, 2012

Medway Council and Medway Hospital – Shame on Both Their Houses

Letter to the media.

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Dear Sirs,

I was not at all surprised at the hypocrisy demonstrated by Medway Council in their response to the news that Medway Hospital has decided to introduce parking charges for disabled patients and visitors. The hospital, like all NHS facilities in the UK, is struggling under budget cuts and tariff reductions introduced by the previous Labour government and maintained by the current Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

I don’t personally support their decision to target vulnerable patients in their attempt to bridge the funding gaps but for Medway councillors from all the main parties to criticise the hospital in such an outraged way is laughable when the same council have introduced means testing for mental health under their “Fairer Contributions” policy, closed day-care centres for very likely the same disabled residents that the hospital is targeting, increased parking charges to achieve £221k of additional funding (although you will be pleased to know that £200k has been allocated for the “Year of Celebration”)  These are just a few of the measures Medway Council has adopted to deal with their reduced budget.

Both Medway Hospital and the Council have had some reprieve though courtesy of the workers who, through pay freezes (or pay cuts depending of how you view it) and increased workload through redundancies of their colleagues, have “saved” the public sector millions of pounds. The hospital and the council should unite against the government’s cuts on public spending and redundancies instead of pointing fingers. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, pot calling kettle black … etc … etc.

Yours,

Richard Patey
Medway Green Party
Strood

July 20, 2011

I give more than ATOS….

Trish Marchant says: I had chance to talk to a man the other day who lives in supported housing, and he was telling me how he has just been told he can no longer claim disability living allowance and that he was fit for work.

ALL THIS FOR 0.5% OF FRAUDULENT CLAIMS.....

John (not his real name) is blind in one eye due to a cancerous growth when he was a baby, he has alcohol and drug dependency, he has learning difficulties and ATOS have judged him fit for work…… He is one of many people who are being forced through unnecessary stress and anguish so that ATOS can makes loadsamoney.

Due to his eyesight John is unable to take a driving job and hasn’t worked for many years because of his difficulties, but putting those things aside are we really a society that wants to leave people floundering on reduced benefits because of a perceived excess of disability claimants? In which respect is this man not disabled? He can walk and talk and lift his arms up and down but psychologically he is not fit to work. He is appealing the decision and I hope he is successful. I have huge respect for him and his ability to live his life on the edge of our “big society” along with many other vulnerable people.  Its hard enough to challenge bureaucracy when you have the comfort of a decent home and a full belly but what is it like for those who are living in shoddy rented accommodation relying on handouts from the state and charities?

For my part I will continue to fight the cruel attacks by this government on the dignity and quality of life of the vulnerable and say to those who support this unfairness take a moment and think … if you were in this man’s shoes would you be optimistic about your chances of getting a job….. ?