Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Benefits - URGENT attention needed!

By now, you will probably realise that there are big plans afoot for massive changes to benefits. This is all very worrying, and we need to do something about it. There's an online petition at http://www.politicalcripple.com/ and they also have a Facebook page. http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/ are also campaigning, and sent me the following email: Persuading disability charities to speak out against the threat to disability benefits is absolutely crucial. Unless leading agencies like Mind, Arthritis Care and the MS Society are prepared to openly oppose these proposals it will be very difficult to halt them. The government will be able to argue that they consulted with 'stakeholder' organisations and they supported the green paper. So whether charities are swayed by the strength of your arguments or alarmed by the prospect of losing members who feel abandoned by them, it's vital that they commit themselves to defending AA and DLA. So far only RNIB has been courageous enough to risk the wrath of six secretaries of state rather than desert its members. So what we're going to suggest you do today is to get in touch with a local or national disability organisation, preferably one that deals with a condition that affects you or someone you care for. Even if all you can manage is a quick email saying: 'What are you doing about the green paper plans to abolish some disability benefits?' that will be enough to make them realise people are aware of, and concerned about, the issue. But if you feel able to write in more detail, below are some of the points you may want to make. We haven't written a standard letter or email for people to copy because we think that they may quickly be dismissed as just a sort of spam. 1 Explain very briefly that you are concerned about the proposals in the Shaping the Future of Care Together green paper to integrate some disability benefits into a new funding stream for a National Care Service 2 Explain why DLA care component or AA is important to you. 3 Point out that it's vital that their organisation work with other disability charities to fight with you on this issue, because the government will find it hard to ignore a wide coalition of disability organisations. 4 Point out that RNIB have put a statement on their website saying they will oppose the scrapping of AA and other disability benefits and that if such a reputable organisation is prepared to do this then there's no reason why every disability organisation can't do the same. 5 You might want to explain that at the moment the campaign against abolishing disability benefits is being led by a private sector company and that you think this is highly inappropriate, it ought to be a coalition of charities leading the way. 6 You may also want to suggest that if charities look the other way as their members are deprived of a vital part of their income then it may result in charities getting a great deal less support, fewer members and fewer donations in the future. 7 Most important of all: ask for a reply. And if you don't get one, keep going back until you do. And when you do, send us a copy and we'll publish at least some of them. Or if you're a Benefits and Work member, post the reply in the forum here: www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/forum?func=showcat&catid=13 If you'd like to contact more than one charity, then members of the Disability Benefits Consortium are worth considering. This is a coalition of charities which "aims to lobby and campaign on welfare benefits as they relate to disabled people." Clearly they are the people who should be running this campaign, rather than Benefits and Work. You can find the email contact details for all these organisations on this page: www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/forum?func=view&catid=13&id=10362 Another possibility is the members of the green paper stakeholder panel. There's a list of the members here, though we haven't had time to research email addresses - volunteers to do so would be very welcome: www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/forum?func=view&catid=13&id=10356 If you want to be getting on with other things rather than waiting for next weeks' email, then there's a few suggestions here: www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/disability-living-allowance-(dla)/dla-aa-cuts/take-action Thank you again for signing up to the No More Benefits Cuts campaign. At the time of writing you are one of an astonishing 13,815 people who have done so in less than a week. Many thanks also to everyone who's been in touch. I do apologise if we haven't replied to your email or returned your call - there have been many more than we could cope with. But we do very much appreciate hearing what people have been doing. Please feel free to forward or publish this email. Good luck, Steve Donnison

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