Social care plans ‘ignore working-age disabled people’

Campaigners are denouncing the Conservatives for ignoring the social care needs of working-age disabled people. The issue does not get a mention in the party’s manifesto for next week’s UK general election.

Conservative leader and prime minister Theresa May got in hot water last week for making a U-turn, which she called a ‘clarification’. It was over the manifesto policy on charging older people for social care.

So, the party’s social care polices now face attack on two fronts. This is because neither the original manifesto, nor that U-turn made any mention of working-age disabled people.

Disability consultant Jane Young told the Disability News Service (DNS) that the manifesto demonstrates ‘ignorance of adult social care services’.

She said: “Anyone reading it would assume that only older people use social care services, when in reality one-third of social care service-users are disabled people of working age.

“We’re left completely in the dark as to how the proposals will affect disabled people, including those who’ve had their support reduced following the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

No acknowledgement of social care role

“While disabled people’s employment is mentioned elsewhere in the manifesto, there’s no acknowledgement of the role of social care in enabling many disabled people to work.

“All we have are questions: Will there be different arrangements for working-age service-users?

“How will the proposals affect disabled service-users with mortgages, or when they sell their home and buy another?

“Will adult social care be better funded, so it can enable independent living rather than mere existence?

“After decades of well-meaning reports, culminating in the Dilnot report and the Care Act 2014, we’re once again thrown into uncertainty.

“We expect more than a manifesto that conveniently ignores us,” she said.

social care

Sue Bott of the DRUK.

Deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, Sue Bott, said there was “No information at all about younger people in” the manifesto.

She believes most of the public are unaware that younger disabled people had to pay for their social care.

Further, she said, the social care system is ‘grossly underfunded’, and that younger disabled people pay more in charges than older people with care needs. This is because older people are allowed to keep more of their money through a generous minimum income guarantee.

Bott added: “If it was realised how much  people had to pay in charges, they would be pretty outraged. It wouldn’t fit in with the ‘scroungers and strivers’ narrative.

Completely unacceptable

“The current situation [with charging]is completely unacceptable. It seems almost out of control.

“The [Conservative] narrative is ‘we are supporting the people most in need’, but they are not, because what they are doing is giving with one hand and taking away with the other in the form of social care charges.”

Asked why the manifesto makes no mention of the social care needs of working-age disabled people, a Conservative party spokeswoman told DNS: “Our manifesto has committed to making sure nobody has to sell their family home to pay for care.

“We will make sure there’s an absolute limit on what people need to pay.  And you will never have to go below £100,000 of your savings, so you will always have something to pass on to your family.”

That reply, of course, failed to answer the question, but the we cannot really expect honesty, can we?

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Diagnosed with MS in 2002, he continued to work until mobility problems made him retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective. Besides that, he is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

Election 2017: Labour to reform welfare benefits and end freeze

benefits

Close share panel

All three main UK political parties have put stated their plans for state welfare benefits, should they win the general election.

Of course, realistically only the existing government Conservatives or the major opposition Labour party, can win. The Liberal Democrats have no chance. I have ignored the UK Independence Party (UKIP) as polls show its support has collapsed.

Labour’s shadow chancellor (finance minister) John McDonnell says his first budget will include a package of reforms, in effect ending the present government’s freeze on benefits. The freeze on working-age benefits started in 2016, and welfare payments are capped at their current rate until 2019.

Speaking on the BBC TV’s Andrew Marr show, Mr McDonnell spoke of Labour’s proposals. He said the party ‘would ensure that in effect we would be addressing ….. how we reverse the benefit freeze itself’.

Benefits reform package

He said: “We’re putting £30bn in over the lifetime of a parliament into welfare. We’re reforming the whole process ….. and the implication will be ….. the impact of these proposals will make the freeze irrelevant.

“I want to do it as part of an overall reform package and not just pick off one by one.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the freeze is ‘unfair’ and ‘would be ended’.

Manifesto pledges

The party’s manifesto includes pledges costing £48.6 bn, to be funded from extra tax revenue.

Labour’s manifesto also includes plans to scrap the bedroom tax and, restore housing benefit for those under 21. It includes, too, an increase in Personal Independence Payment for peole living with disabilities.

According to the Conservative manifesto, Theresa May’s party has “no plans for further radical welfare reform”. It will continue to roll-out of Universal Credit – the much-maligned single monthly payment to replace many other benefits.

The Liberal Democrats also say they’d end the benefits freeze and reverse disastrous welfare cuts made by the current government.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Features Writer for Medical News Today. He has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Diagnosed with MS in 2002, he continued to work until mobility problems made him retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective. Besides that, he is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

Election: Which Party will be Best for People with Disabilities?

I have an interest in elections and politics that started more than 50 years ago. And, yes, I have delivered leaflets and even canvassed for candidates.

Today, though, I decide election by election how to vote and support the party that has policies with which I agree.

And that’s why on June 8, I shall be voting in the UK general election as someone with a disability. But who to vote for? The one that give people with disabilities a fair deal.

For the last seven years, the UK has seen nothing short of government persecution of disabled people. For the first five years it was a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition then, for the last two, the Conservatives alone.

Regretfully, there is no sign of a change of heart.

labourNow, let’s look at the official opposition; the Labour Party.

The party’s manifesto has not been published yet, but a copy of the draft has been leaked. And what it contains is revealing.

For the many not the few

Titled “For the Many not the Few”, the leaked draft says:

Labour will act immediately to end the worst excesses of the Conservative government’s changes. We will:

  • Scrap the punitive sanctions regime.
  • Scrap the bedroom tax.
  • Reinstate housing benefit-for-under-21s.
  • Scrap bereavement support payment cuts.

We will also review the cuts to work allowances in Universal Credit, and also review the decision to limit tax credit and Universal Credit payments to the first two children in a family.

The Tories haven completely failed on their promise of making work pay, of tackling the barriers to work faced by disabled people.

Labour supports a social model of disability. People may have a condition or an impairment but are disabled by society. We need to remove the barriers in society that restrict opportunities and choices for disabled people.

We will build on the previous Labour government’s commitment to disabled people in 2009 as signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and incorporate it into UK law.

Labour: Social Security Bill

Labour will repeal the following cuts in social security support to disabled people through a new Social Security Bill published in our first year of office to:

  • Increase ESA by £30 per week for those in the work-related activity group and repeal cuts in UC LCW (Limited Capability for Work Element).
  • Uprate carer’s allowance by £11 to the level of Jobseekers Allowance.
  • Implement the court decision on PIP so that there is real parity of esteem between those with physical and mental health conditions.
  • Scrap the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a personalised, holistic assessment process which provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers.
  • End the pointless stress of reassessments for people with severe long-term conditions.
  • Commission a report into expanding the Access to Work programme.

We will change the culture of the social security system, from one that demonises people to one that is supportive and enabling.

As well as scrapping the Conservatives’ punitive sanctions regime, we will change how Jobcentre Plus staff are performance managed.

Labour will strengthen access to justice for disabled people by enhancing the 2010 Equality Act enabling discrimination at work to be challenged. We will ensure that under the Istanbul Convention, disability hate crime and violence against disabled women is reported annually with national action plans to address these.

Decision time

I have never before used this website to urge support for one party over others.

I am not a natural Labour voter.

But, having lived through seven years of cuts and read that draft manifesto, I shall vote Labour on June 8.

If you have a vote in the UK election, join me and vote for the caring policies, vote Labour.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * *

50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Diagnosed with MS in 2002, he continued to work until mobility problems made him retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective. Besides that, he is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

Disabilities among party’s top priorities

Never missing a chance to secure more votes, the Republican Party is clearly seeking the support of people with disabilities by including a raft of pro-disability policies among its top priorities. Theoretically, that should be good for everyone with a disability, such as anyone like me who has multiple sclerosis, but what politicians promise before an election and what they actually do if elected are not always the same.

The gop.com website says: “We (the Republican Party) renew our commitment to the inclusion of Americans with disabilities in all aspects of our national life.

Voting-booth usa“In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society.

“Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the Ability One program, a major avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services.

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has opened up unprecedented opportunities for many students, and we reaffirm our support for its goal of minimizing the separation of children with disabilities from their peers. We urge preventive efforts in early childhood, especially assistance in gaining pre-reading skills, to help many students move beyond the need for IDEA’s protections.

“We endorse the program of Employment First, developed by major disability rights groups, to replace dependency with jobs in the mainstream of the American workforce.”

Interesting, no mention of support to maintain social security benefits for the disabled.

 

Here’s the full list of key policies in the Republican platform, as published on gop.com:

Renewing American Values

Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage

Creating a Culture of Hope: Raising Families Beyond Poverty

Adoption and Foster Care

Making the Internet Family-Friendly

Advancing Americans with Disabilities

Repealing Obamacare

Our Prescription for American Healthcare: Improve Quality and Lower Costs

Ensuring Consumer Choice in Healthcare

Supporting Federal Healthcare Research and Development

Protecting Individual Conscience in Healthcare

Reforming the FDA

Reducing Costs through Tort Reform

Education: A Chance for Every Child

Attaining Academic Excellence for All

Consumer Choice in Education

Improving Our Nation’s Classrooms

Addressing Rising College Costs

Justice for All: Safe Neighborhoods and Prison Reform

On Tuesday November 8, the same day as the USA goes to the polls to elect a new president, voters will also make their selections for a total of 469 seats in the US Congress. Of these, just 34 are in the Senate. All 435 House of Representatives’ seats are up for election.

 

 

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Trump ‘scary’, Hillary ‘a liar’ – pick your US President

DJT_Headshot_V2_400x400 HCFront runners: Republican Trump and Democrat Clinton.

Presidential hopefuls in the race to become the Republican party’s candidate in the USA presidential election may have been reduced to three but it is quite possible than none of those three may be the eventual nominee as chosen by the party’s convention.

And, if that seems to make a complete nonsense of the whole system of primaries and caucuses … well, yes it does.

However, if no candidate gains an overall majority of pledged delegate votes in time, the convention will become contested and then, it seems, anything can happen. The chosen candidate may, in fact, be none of those involved in the primaries and caucuses.

Does that strike you as crazy?

Over in the Democrat camp, former first lady, former senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has amassed a great deal of delegate support so far but, at the moment, she has not gained enough and rival Senator Bernie Sanders has pulled off some remarkable primary wins to keep up the pressure.

Her biggest problem seems to be her reputation. Because of the controversy surrounding her using her home email server while Secretary of State, she is seen by a large proportion of voters as being untrustworthy. And that is only one of a number of concerns.

Now, as I am British, I don’t feel qualified to comment about the qualities of those currently seeking their own party’s endorsement. However, my wife Lisa was born and raised in New York City, so here are her thoughts:

Republican:

Trump: “I like the fact that he is not a politician but he could and would quickly become one. His arrogance scares me and I think he is a danger to the USA and the world.”

Cruz: “A senator from Texas with a Hispanic name. There never has been a Hispanic president and I don’t believe he is the right guy to break that tradition. He hasn’t got what it takes.”

Kasich: “Who? Oh yes, the Governor of Ohio. His poor results in the primaries show he is not in the running for anything.”

Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders.

Democrat:

Clinton: “I could never, ever vote for Hillary. She may never have been convicted of a crime but I don’t trust her. Added to that, her well-documented flip-flops on various policies on which she claims to have always been ‘consistent’ show she is a liar. While I’d love to see the USA have its first female president, please let it not be her.”

Sanders: “Probably the safest of any of those still in the race for either party’s nomination. Certainly, the least of all evils.”

Everyone’s vote should matter – but does it?

ballot box

Uncertainty is hanging over the heads of people in so many different countries this year as questions relating to their futures are being decided at the ballot box. Well, they should be.

In the USA, the various Democratic and Republican candidates are fighting through the primary and caucus system to win enough support to win their party’s nomination as candidate in the presidential election in November.

In Europe, there are three important decisions being made: the Irish general election; the UK referendum on whether to remain in or to leave the European Union; and the efforts In Spain to form a government following the December general election that left no party with enough seats to govern alone.

flag USA

Back in the States, there are really only two contenders for the Democrats: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Hillary is by far the favourite although her early victories have been close – some decided by the toss of a coin and others through the help of unregistered voters. It seems that not all is as it should be in the States. My wife, Lisa, is American and she is not surprised by the shenanigans. “Votes don’t matter in America. People don’t really choose candidates or the President. Look at the New Hampshire primary; Sanders won 60% of the popular vote but, because of party rules, Clinton won the most delegates; tell me how that is fair or democratic,” she says.

On the other side of the political debate, the Republican fight seems to be only of concern now to three would-be presidents: front runner Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Others still in the race seem to be out of contention. As the campaign heads towards ‘Super Tuesday’, it looks as though Trump may soon be in an unbeatable position to be named as the party candidate.

flag Ireland

Ireland goes to the polls tomorrow, February 26, to elect its new government. Opinion polls point to Fianna Fail replacing Labour as the second largest party. Fine Gael looks set to remain the largest party, just, but with fewer seats No-one is predicted to achieve an overall majority.

flag Spain

Spain’s parliament meets on March 2 in an attempt to install PSOE (socialist) leader Pedro Sanchez as prime minister. To do so, he will need to win the support of the majority of deputies choosing to vote. Some may abstain. If the PSOE leader cannot receive the necessary backing the PP (conservatives) may be asked once more to form a government but  they have already declined once. Should all attempts fail, Spain will go to the polls once more in June.

flag UK flag Europe

The UK faces a vote in the form of a referendum to either remain in the European Union or to leave it, the so-called Brexit. The vote takes place on June 23 and the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaigns both have support from politicians in all the main UK-wide parties. This referendum is too distant and the campaign too long to hazard a prediction yet.

 

A reason to celebrate

imaconc

Today, December 8, Spain has a national public holiday on the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is a religious celebration observed by many Christians, mainly Catholics, around the world.

Some churches organise processions through the streets but, on checking the internet, I was unable to find any details of one in the whole province of Almeria. Of course, most Catholic churches will each be holding a special Mass today.

The feast focuses on the belief that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin but that does not mean that she was conceived without sexual intercourse. The Catholic church, of which I am not a member, teaches that Mary was conceived by St Anne through conventional means – her father being St Joachim.  What ‘immaculate’ means is that, despite her conception being the result of sex, Mary was kept free of original sin.

I think it is important to emphasise that the Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with the other belief that Mary gave birth to Jesus while remaining a virgin.

Theological controversy, in which this blog is not getting involved, surrounded the feast of the for centuries. Many theologians throughout Christian history, including St Thomas Aquinas, questioned the Immaculate Conception.

It remained open for debate for many years until Pope Pius IX proclaimed it to be an essential dogma in the Catholic Church on December 8, 1854. The written document on this is known as the Ineffabilis Deus. Since then, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the belief that Mary was born without sin and that God chose her to be Jesus’s mother.

Ok, that’s enough about religion!

The weather here continues to be enjoyable and so very different from that we experienced in the UK in December or that Lisa remembers about this time of year in her native New York city. Here, today started sunny and with a clear blue sky but it was cold with a temperature of only 8˚C/46˚F. Since then it has warmed up considerably and, as I write this, it is now a comfortable 14˚C/57˚F.

genelectGoing out and about, there is plenty of evidence of political activity with banners everywhere exhorting voters to choose one party or another in the General Election on the 20th. And there are a host of parties to choose between when making a decision.

A couple of things about the election that do seem to be a good idea is that publication of opinion polls are prohibited in the last few days before voting takes place and campaigning has to end two days before election day. The very last day is set aside as a day of reflection; a day free from being badgered by one or more of the parties vying for power.