Disability Rights UK Newsletter

Disability Rights UK logoWe are looking for our next Chair of Trustees

Since its foundation in 2012 DR UK has significantly grown in profile, influence and reputation. In 2022 we celebrate 10 years of our organisation working together with Disabled People leading change. We are looking for an individual who shares our ambitions and values to lead the Board into the next exciting period for DR UK and further grow the organisation’s impact. This is at a time when we need to tackle the inequality faced by all Disabled People in the UK. The pandemic has shown how our hard-won rights can be easily swept away by new legislation.

The role is for someone passionate about equality and human rights, someone who understands the importance of the Social Model of Disability as a driving force for change. The role is rewarding and you will be supported by a committed and skilful Board, CEO and staff team. DR UK brings the lived experiences of Disabled People to everything it does, by challenging policymakers, institutions and individuals to remove the barriers that exist for Disabled People.

As Chair, you will be a Disabled Person and will be willing to support and promote the role of DR UK with skill and enthusiasm.

The recruitment timetable is:

  • Deadline for applications: Monday 26 July
  • Interviews with Prospectus: w/c 09 August
  • Interviews with DR UK w/c 06 September and w/c 13 September

Anyone wishing to apply can have an informal discussion about the opportunity. They should contact our retained advisor Jess Stockford jessica.stockford@prospect-us.co.uk at Prospectus or call them on 020 7691 1920.

For further information visit our website.

To apply directly, visit the Prospectus website.

News Round-upGovernment launches consultation on fire safety for Disabled PeopleOn 14th June 2021 it will be four years since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, where 72 people lost their lives. 41% of disabled residents in the block died, sometimes alongside loved ones who stayed with them.The Fire Safety Order 2005 makes it clear that all residents need to be protected from fire and a key way of making this a reality is by preparingPersonal Emergency Evacuation Plans (Peeps) for Disabled residents, who are unable to self-evacuate. Yet for over a decade, key guidance documents have said that preparing such Plans are impractical. None of the disabled residents at Grenfell Tower had an Evacuation Plan. Thousands of Disabled people continue to be refused such Plans.In October 2019 the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommended that building owners and managing agents be required legally to produce Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans for Disabled People, who are unable to self-evacuate. On 7th June 2021, the Government launched a consultation on implementing this recommendation.Access the consultation online.To join one of the following workshops email firesafetyunitconsultations@homeoffice.gov.uk15th June 14:30 to 16:3024th June 10:00 to 12:0030th June 14:30 to 16:308th July 10:00 to 12:00

DWP failures mean dying people are being rejected for PIPMore than 100 terminally ill people are each month being rejected for PIP despite having less than six months to live, and many are spending their final weeks fighting in vain for social security support, say Marie Curie and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.In addition, it says that thousands of people are experiencing added  stress at the hands of the DWP and that many spend their final weeks of life either fighting for support or dying without any.Both Marie Curie and the Motor Neurone Disease Association have been campaigning to improve the benefits system for dying people and to scrap the “six month rule” which states people must prove they have six months or less to live before accessing fast-track support. The charities, along with a parliamentary report, say these rules are arbitrary, out-dated and amount to cruelty toward some of the most vulnerable people in society.Read more on the DR UK website.

Nearly one in three Disabled workers say they were treated unfairly at work during the pandemic30 per cent of Disabled workers say that they’ve been treated unfairly at work during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new poll published by the Trade Union Congress (TUC). The survey reveals that many Disabled people report that they experienced significant barriers in the workplace before the pandemic, and that Covid-19 has made things worse for them.Before the Covid-19 pandemic, disabled workers were hugely underrepresented and underpaid in the labour market. The employment gap between disabled and non-disabled workers was 28 per cent. Disabled workers are paid 20 per cent less than non-disabled peers.Recent government figures show that redundancy rates are now 62 per cent higher for disabled workersOne in 13 (eight per cent) said they were subjected to bullying and/or harassment, being ignored or excluded, singled out for criticism or being monitored excessively at work.One in eight (twelve per cent) said they were concerned their disability had affected their chances of a promotion in the future.One in eight (13 per cent) said they were concerned their disability had affected how their performance would be assessed by their manager.The TUC says that any proposed National Strategy for Disabled People. must include mandatory disability pay gap reporting, the enforcement of reasonable adjustments and a stronger legal framework for adjustments.Read more on the DR UK website.

DWP ignoring concerns about Disabled benefit claimants’ deaths DR UK has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP asking her to instigate an immediate Inquiry into the deaths of Disabled benefits claimants.We first wrote to Ms Coffey in October 2020 to express concerns about the DWP’s lack of statutory duty of care. No response has been received in the six months since the DWP received this letter.DR UK has again written to Ms Coffey, this time requesting that around 100 “internal process reviews” into benefit claimants’ deaths are made public, that a response is given for our concerns around the duty of care issue, and that an Inquiry into the deaths is held.Our most recent letter says: “At DWP meetings we have attended to discuss the awaited Health and Disability Green Paper the Department has acknowledged that there is a significant lack of trust by claimants in its role and activities. This is particularly true of Disabled claimants who suffer fear and anxiety due to the medical assessments for benefits.Given the deaths of Disabled claimants we have highlighted vulnerable over recent years there is genuine concern as to the DWP’s safeguarding policies and procedures. We submit that the Department should recognise the need for it to be open and transparent on this issue.In addition, we submit that you agree to instigate an independent inquiry investigating why these deaths are happening and ensure the Department make necessary changes so that they no longer occur.”Read more on the DR UK website.

DWP responds to Coroner’s Prevention of Death notice after Philippa Day death In January 2021, a Coroner delivered a damning indictment of systemic problems at the DWP that contributed to the decision of Philippa Day to take an overdose that led to her death.The Coroner held that the “predominant factor” affecting her decision to take an overdose was the financial distress caused by the administration of welfare benefits which led to acute distress and exacerbated the other stresses.As a result, he issued a prevention of future deaths (POD) notice to call for the DWP to consider and address our areas of concern including:

  • Mental health training for DWP call handlers – the Inquest heard that this has not to date formed part of their mandatory training programme before taking calls.
  • Poor record keeping at the DWP – the Coroner found that poor record keeping had contributed to poor decision making regarding Philippa’s claim, without relevant factors being taken into account, and that there had been no evidence of improvements in this respect since Philippa’s death.

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Officer said: “It is a scandal that it has taken the tragic death of a young Disabled mother and a legal notice for the DWP to review and make changes to the way it implements the disability benefits system. The DWP should have a statutory duty of care towards all claimants and be subject to an independent inquiry into the succession of benefit related deaths that have occurred in recent years.”Read more, including the full DWP response to the Notice on the DR UK website.

Factsheet focus: factsheet 55 – universal credit

Universal credit is a benefit paid to people of working age who are on a low income. Our factsheet F55 explains universal credit in a detailed but simple way.

The factsheet is broken down into 35 bite-sized (or smartphone-sized) chunks, each covering a different aspect of the benefit, including:

Our factsheet F64 covers the ways in which universal credit can take your disability or health condition into account, including:

For a full list of all our other factsheets, visit the Disability Rights UK website.

Get InvolvedBenefits training coursesDR UK offers a range of essential online courses in partnership with the Benefits Training Company. Each course is run in two parts, using Zoom and facilitated by an experienced benefits trainer.

Universal Credit OverviewNo previous experience is required although a working knowledge of the wider benefits system is helpful.Part 1: Eligibility and rollout / The UC calculation – Tuesday 15 June 9.45am – 12.45pmPart 2: The claims process / Work requirements and sanctions – Wednesday 16 June 9.45am – 12.45pmClick here for more information and to book your place.

Preparing for an Appeal TribunalThis course is aimed at professionals who work in advice or advocacy who need to know about how to prepare an Appeal Tribunal. A working knowledge of Personal Independence Payment and the Work Capability Assessment is assumed.Part 1: Assessing the case, reviewing the DWP decision – Thursday 6 July 9.45am – 12.45pmPart 2: Composing effective written submissions, preparing claimants for appeal hearings – Friday 7 July 9.45am – 12.45pmClick here for more information and to book your place.

Introduction to Welfare BenefitsThe course is aimed at professionals who work in advice or advocacy who need to know more about – or need a refresher on – changes to welfare benefits and social security.Part 1: The structure of the system and the importance of health & disability benefits – Tuesday 20 July 9.45am – 12.45pmPart 2: Universal Credit, the wider benefits system and maximising income – Wednesday 21 July 9.45am – 12.45pmClick here for more information and to book your place.

These courses sell out fast so early booking is encouraged.Each course costs £112.50 + VAT per person for DR UK organisational members. After booking you will receive a Zoom link and supporting materials by email.

Joining the judiciary as a non-legal memberNot all members of the judiciary are lawyers. Sometimes there are roles which require candidates who are experienced in dealing with the needs and barriers faced by disabled people. You might be able to use your expertise by sitting as a part-time tribunal member. The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) has published new introductory guidance to help educate on what non-legal roles are, how to know if one might be right for you and how to apply. The guidance can help you to prepare and feel better-equipped to apply as roles become available.Read more on the DR UK website.

ITV journalism traineeshipITV news is recruiting for its journalism traineeship and is keen for Disabled people who want to train in journalism to apply.Watch the Youtube video explaining about the 2022 cohort recruitment.Visit the ITV jobs website for more information and an online application form.Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a one day online assessment centre on either 5th, 6th or 7th October 2021. The traineeship will be for nine months, starting Monday 10 January 2022. Applicants should be over the age of 18 by 1 January 2022 and have the commitment and enthusiasm to work for ITV News. Email newstraineeship2022@itv.com for more information. Deadline is 23.59 Sunday 13th June.

Have your say on location dataWould you like to take part in some research? Traverse (an independent research company) would like to talk to Disabled people about location data. They would like to hear about your experiences and opinions. You don’t need to know anything about location data to take part! This will be a group session on Zoom, on Tuesday 15th June, from 2pm – 3:30pm. You will get a £75 voucher to thank you for your time.This is part of a bigger research project to understand public views on location data, which you can read more about online.The UK government funded this project, but it will not be involved in the focus group. You can participate anonymously and none of your personal information will be shared – just a summary of the group’s discussion. If you’d like to take part or find out more, please email locationdataethics@traverse.ltd sharing any accessibility needs, or call Maddy from Traverse on 07500 900506.

The Brown Envelope Book107 poets have contributed to The Brown Envelope Book about the benefits system.Purchase your copy.

Casting call for housing showRaise the Roof Productions is casting for a new series of My Mortgage Free Home for HGTV with Amanda Lamb. The show features people who are willing to use equity on their current home to live mortgage free in the next one. Raise the Roof is keen to feature people who are looking for more accessible homes.If you are interested in participating, email Raise the Roof Productions.

Our Helplines 

Our helplines are operating as normal:

Personal Budgets Helpline

Disabled Students Helpline

Welfare Rights Helpline for Member Organisations

Disability Rights UK
Plexal
14 East Bay Lane
Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Stratford, London E20 3BS
United Kingdom
0330 995 0400