News from Disability News Service 7th Feb

DPO welcomes ‘ground-breaking partnership’ with elected mayor

A ground-breaking new partnership between disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) and Greater Manchester’s elected mayor could become a “template” for future work with local authorities across the region, according to one leading DPO.

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) said this week that it believed that Greater Manchester was the first combined authority in the country to establish a formal partnership between DPOs and the elected mayor.

The authority, led by Labour’s Andy Burnham, is now set to approve funding this month which will ensure that the lead of a new disabled people’s panel will be a paid position.

Read the full article here.

New charter aims to put dignity and respect at heart of local services

Disabled campaigners have launched a new charter that aims to persuade organisations – and individuals – in their local area to treat people with dignity and respect.

Ken and Tracy McClymont have spent four years working on the Dudley Dignity Charter, which lists 10 key principles for how people should be treated, focusing on areas such as communication, privacy, choice, control, advocacy and fairness.

The McClymonts, both key figures in Dudley Centre for Inclusive Living (Dudley CIL), have worked on the charter with another local disabled people’s organisation, Disability In Action, with support from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and Healthwatch Dudley.

Read the full article here.

‘Ill thought out’ bill needs stronger safeguards, minister told after meeting

The government must introduce “stronger and more effective safeguards” to protect the rights of service-users who face having their freedom restricted by health and care providers, disabled campaigners have told a minister.

Inclusion London wrote to care minister Caroline Dinenage yesterday (Wednesday) about the government’s mental capacity (amendment) bill, which is currently awaiting its Commons report stage.

The letter followed a meeting between Dinenage and representatives of Inclusion London and People First (Self Advocacy) this week, and an open letter to Inclusion London published by the minister last week.

Read the full article here.

Newton forced to apologise after misleading MPs in WOW debate

The minister for disabled people has been forced to apologise to MPs after Disability News Service (DNS) caught her misleading MPs about support for disabled people for the fourth time in less than a year.

The misleading comments by Sarah Newton about disability poverty came in December when she was responding to a House of Commons debate on the impact of eight years of cuts to disability support.

But it was only on Tuesday this week, four days after DNS had drawn the attention of her press officers to her misleading comments, that she sent a letter apologising to MPs.

Read the full article here.

‘Shocking’ PIP death figures ‘show assessment process is unfit for purpose’

About 1,600 working-age disabled people are dying every year after having their claim for disability benefits rejected, the government has been forced to admit.

The Department for Work and Pensions figures (DWP) reveal that 7,990 disabled people who lodged a claim for person independence payment (PIP) in the five years after the new benefit was launched in April 2013 had died within six months of registering their claim, while also having that claim rejected.

These figures mean that more than 130 working-age disabled people a month have been found ineligible for PIP following an initial assessment by government contractors Atos and Capita but were still so unwell that they died soon afterwards*.

Read the full article here.

Inquiry call after ‘fitness for work’ firm ‘admits it has no safeguarding policy’

The government’s “fitness for work” contractor appears to have no written policy on how to protect the safety of people claiming out-of-work disability benefits, despite years of evidence linking the assessment with deaths and serious harm.

Only last week, it emerged that ministers have omitted the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) from a new cross-government plan aimed at reducing suicides, despite ever-mounting evidence linking such deaths with the work capability assessment (WCA) and social security reforms.

Now a senior executive from Maximus appears to have admitted to a disabled campaigner that the company does not have a safeguarding policy, nearly four years after taking on the WCA contract, although it claims it is in the process of creating one.

Read the full article here.

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