Disabled campaigners have criticised the chancello

first_imgDisabled campaigners have criticised the chancellor’s failure to provide any money in the budget to solve the social care funding crisis, despite a warning from the UN.Although Philip Hammond announced some extra funding for the NHS, there was no mention of social care in his budget speech, or in the main budget report.It came only days after the government left disabled campaigners “completely frustrated” by admitting that it will side-line the needs of working-age disabled people from next summer’s social care green paper (see separate story).In August, the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities warned that the UK was “going backwards” on independent living, and called on the government to draw up a “comprehensive plan” to address the problem.Despite that call, there was not a single mention of disabled people, disability, independent living or social care in the chancellor’s 7,700-word speech to MPs yesterday (Wednesday), repeating his failure to mention disabled people or disability in his 6,700-word budget speech in March.The chancellor (pictured delivering the budget speech) did announce an extra £335 million for the NHS in England this winter, £1.6 billion in 2018-19, and another £900 million in 2019-20 – still far short of the extra £4 billion-a-year health leaders say it needs – as well as overall increases of £2 billion for the Scottish government, and £1.2 billion more for the Welsh government, but he allocated nothing to social care in England.In March, the chancellor allocated just £2.4 billion in extra money for social care over the next three years, a sum described by disabled campaigners at the time as “meaningless” when set against the scale of the funding crisis.A survey of social workers in England by Community Care magazine and the Care and Support Alliance, published in September, found that more than two-thirds felt they were expected to cut people’s care packages because of local authority funding pressures, while more than a quarter were not confident that the reduced care packages they had to oversee were “fair and safe”.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday, in his speech responding to the budget, that by March next year more than £6 billion will have been cut from social care budgets since 2010.Linda Burnip, co founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “As expected, the Tories have completely ignored yet again the human disaster they have allowed to develop in relation to social care and have failed to address in any way the ever increasing lack of funding to support disabled people’s human rights to live independently in the community with adequate levels of support.”Disability Rights UK said: “There will be deep disappointment amongst disabled people that there was no mention of social care in the budget.“The crisis in services looks set to continue unabated.”The Local Government Association said it was “a completely false economy to put money into the NHS while not addressing the funding crisis in adult social care” and “sends a message that if you need social care, you should go to hospital”.The disability charity Sense warned the government that it “cannot save the NHS if it delays dealing with social care”.And another disability charity, the MS Society, said the failure to provide more money for social care was “even more alarming” than the refusal to meet the NHS funding gap, and “provides nothing to prevent the current crisis from worsening”.The budget report did include one disability-specific spending announcement, with an extra £42 million for the disabled facilities grant – which provides funding to make disabled people’s homes more accessible – increasing the total budget for this year (2017-18) to £473 million, although this was not mentioned in Hammond’s speech.There was also relief that the government finally agreed to introduce measures to soften the impact of the botched rollout of universal credit (UC), which is gradually replacing six working-age benefits.Campaigners have been warning that the rollout is leaving hundreds of thousands in debt, and forcing people – many of them disabled – to borrow from loan sharks, pawnbrokers and payday loan companies, while many have been left in rent arrears and facing eviction.Hammond announced a package of improvements to UC that will cost £1.5 billion over the next five years (£300 million in 2018-19), including removing the seven-day waiting period for new claimants so that entitlement starts on the day of the claim.Claimants will also be able to secure an advance, equal to a full month’s UC payment, within five days of making a claim, and will be allowed to make online applications for advances.They will also be allowed to pay back the advance payment over 12 months, instead of the current six, while claimants moving from housing benefit to UC will receive an extra two weeks of their housing benefit award to ease the transition.The Treasury told Disability News Service that the changes will cause a further three-month delay to the rollout of universal credit, so it will now reach all jobcentres – although not all claimants – by December 2018 rather than September 2018.Further details were due to be announced today (Thursday) by work and pensions secretary David Gauke.Citizens Advice Scotland welcomed the “significant” changes, and said they would “make a real difference to those claimants who are currently experiencing hardship”, but warned that there were “other problems with universal credit which we believe still need to be addressed”.last_img read more

A note from the editor Please consider making a v

first_imgA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Campaigners are warning the Labour party to rethink its support for a radical new benefit system because of risks that its introduction would further isolate and impoverish disabled people.In a new report, UBI: Solution or Illusion? The Implications of Universal Basic Income for Disabled People in Britain, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) says support for universal basic income (UBI) has been growing steadily among those both on the left and the right of politics.Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell has expressed some support for UBI and has suggested that the party’s next general election manifesto is likely to include a commitment to a UBI pilot.The Scottish government is also providing funding for possible pilot schemes to be run by four local authorities.UBI is a regular cash payment made to every citizen regardless of their income, paid without any requirement to be in a paid job or looking for work.Many see it as a solution to the UK’s flawed and much-criticised social security safety net, which has seen years of cuts to support and an increasingly-harsh sanctions and conditionality regime.DPAC says this interest in UBI has intensified with the introduction of universal credit.Supporters of UBI also see it as the answer to the “stigmatisation of social security, the scapegoating of benefit claimants and associated hostility towards disabled people”, says DPAC in its report.But the DPAC report warns that too little attention has been paid to the implications of UBI for disabled people.The report warns that it is likely that housing benefit and disability benefits would remain outside a UBI system.This would mean the need for continuing disability assessments, and the risk that the high cost of running a UBI system would mean further cuts to benefits and services relied on by disabled people, such as social care support.DPAC’s Ellen Clifford, author of the new report, said: “While we would be in favour of tax rises to fund welfare provision – particularly corporation tax and a progressive rise in the higher rate of income tax – the use of this for a UBI rather than more traditional forms of disability and unemployment support would mean much of the benefit flowing back to employers rather than those in most need.”Two other grassroots organisations of disabled people, Black Triangle and WinVisible, have this week added their voices to the concerns raised by DPAC about UBI.Clifford’s report concludes that implementing UBI “risks detracting attention and resources from the urgent task required to overhaul the disability benefits system and make it fit for purpose”.It adds: “Given the history of disabled people’s exclusion and the marginalisation of our issues it is reasonable for disabled people to fear that attention and resources dedicated to the task of implementing a UBI will be at the expense of affecting the level of change needed to ensure disabled people receive adequate support.”There are also concerns, says the report, that a more flexible employment market ushered in by UBI, with greater job insecurity and the likelihood of poorer working conditions and lower wages for lower-paid workers, would further disadvantage disabled workers.They also say that right-wing versions of UBI are seen as a way of saving money by avoiding spending on a decent living wage and social protection.And the report says that pushing for UBI risks deferring demands for full reasonable adjustments at work for disabled workers, and “full and unconditional support” for those unable to work, while “ending up with a system that is more of a helping hand for employers than for disabled people”.The report says DPAC’s concerns are born out by the results of pilot UBI schemes that have been run across the world, including one in Finland that has just ended, but has not yet been assessed officially, which critics say has forced unemployed workers into bad jobs while undermining unions, wage equality, and the welfare state.And it says concerns have been raised about the proposed pilot schemes in Scotland, including the cost and potential negative impacts on disabled people, including likely cuts to other social protection schemes.But the report does say that a pilot scheme in India proved successful, with disabled people benefiting more than others, but mainly because “many of those benefiting had received no previous support at all”, which was “very different to what would happen with the introduction of a UBI in Britain to replace existing social security payments”.Clifford said it was worrying how marginalised disabled people had been in the debate around the introduction of UBI.She said DPAC’s message to Labour was to include disabled people in the debate and to consider how they would be affected by the introduction of UBI.Clifford said it was important to have the debate about UBI as there was growing support for the idea that universal credit would have to be scrapped, and that UBI could be the system to replace it.She said: “We have seen with universal credit and personalisation how what can sound like progressive ideas can end up badly for disabled people in practice.“We remember how the personalisation pilots actually went very well.“It isn’t always possible for pilots to capture the full implications of policy roll outs so we are concerned that Labour’s proposed pilots will not on their own be enough to avoid a future situation where UBI is fully rolled out and ends up widening rather than reducing inequality.”The report could surprise some of DPAC’s critics, who often assume that the grassroots group will support the left-wing policies of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn and McDonnell.But DPAC has repeatedly made it clear that it is not aligned to any political party and that its loyalties lie instead with those fighting for disabled people’s “full human rights and equality”, and against government austerity measures “which target the poor while leaving the wealthy unscathed”.John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said existing experiments with UBI appeared to “have been driven by a right wing agenda that undermines workers’ rights”.He said: “On the face of it, UBI seems to be progressive but the devil is in the detail.”He said Black Triangle echoed DPAC’s call for the immediate focus to be on “removing conditionality and sanctions and the hostile environment for disabled people”, replacing the UK government’s disability assessment regime, and co-producing with disabled people a social security system that “will again be fit for purpose”.Claire Glasman, from WinVisible, which supports and campaigns for disabled women, said the problem with UBI was that it was not based on need and – like universal credit – did not recognise the importance of unwaged caring work.She said: “We are very worried that it is going to be a way of cutting benefits based on need: the needs of disabled people, the needs of mothers and children, the needs of bereaved people, which specific benefits exist to cover.”last_img read more

Electoral Commission announces names of the 6 elected MEPs

first_imgIn the early hours of this morning, the Election Commission announced the official results of the election of Members of the European Parliament held on the 25th May 2019.As had been predicted late yesterday evening, there are four elected candidates for the Partit Laburista and two for the Partit Nazzjonalista. According to the Commission, the candidate who received the most votes is Miriam Dalli (PL), followed by Roberta Metsola (PN). Alfred Sant (PL) is in third place, followed by David Casa (PN), while Alex Agius Saliba (PL) is in fifth place, followed by Josianne Cutajar (PL).Among the six Maltese MEPs, there are two new faces – Alex Agius Saliba and Josianne Cutajar. Francis Zammit Dimech (PN) was not elected this time and Marlene Mizzi (PL) chose not to contest this year’s election.There are still no official final figures regarding exactly how many votes each candidate received (both elected and non-elected). However, the unofficial results issued late yesterday evening by PL agents state that Miriam Dalli obtained about 51,000 votes, Alfred Sant – 21 300, Alex Agius Saliba – 15,000 and Josianne Cutajar – 12,900. Meanwhile PN agents stated that Roberta Metsola obtained 31,000 votes and David Casa – 16,500.The quota in order to be elected is that of 37,000 votes.What are the new MEPs saying?The candidate who received the most votes, Miriam Dalli, thanked all those who gave their votes to her and announced that it received a total of 63,438 votes. She said she could not find the words to express her gratitude and claimed that her responsibility was now even greater. She promised to continue to strive to represent the people in the best possible way.Roberta Metsola said that she was honoured to have been re-elected to serve as an MEP. She said she had been elected with a total of 38,206 votes and thanked all those who had decided to trust her with the job.Alfred Sant also showed his gratitude on social media.David Casa said that to hold the trust of the people, as he was elected to Parliament for the fourth consecutive election, was ‘incredible’. He said he is truly honoured to again be selected for this role and pledged to be the voice of the people in the European Parliament.Alex Agius Saliba said that had been elected as the third MEP on behalf of the PL with a total of 35 823 votes. He thanked everyone for their support.Josianne Cutajar thanked everyone who supported her and said that she is deeply honoured. SharePrint WhatsAppcenter_img <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more