Government plans to cut support for many disabled people on out-of-work benefits could harm their mental health and make it harder for them to return to work, according to a review led by a disabled peer.The review by the disabled peers Lord [Colin] Low and Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, and their fellow crossbencher Baroness Meacher concluded that there was “no justification” for the government’s planned cut.The proposal will see new claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) who have been placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) see their weekly payments drop by nearly £30 a week from April 2017.But the review, Halving the Gap?, said that a survey of 500 disabled people in the WRAG – those viewed as having limited capability for work, but able to carry out some work-related activity – found 57 per cent of them said they already did not have enough money to live on.One respondent to the review said: “The impact would be massive. I would have to make the saving on food in order to still pay for gas and electricity. This means I would, in reality, have to rely on food banks sometimes.”Another said: “I would have to cancel my phone and internet which would make it really hard to contact people in my life who support me such as my social worker, parents and doctor.”Of 150 respondents who answered the question, just two said the government measure would make it more likely that they would look for work.And many respondents talked about the impact the cut would have on their health.One said: “Losing this money would make me more worried and stressed which would impact my mental health considerably, turning the whole thing into a vicious circle.”Another told the review: “Reduced money = poorer health due to poorer diet and poorer hygiene = poorer prospects of becoming well enough to even entertain the idea of looking for work.”The review was launched just 24 hours before peers discussed the proposed cut in the House of Lords, during the committee stage of the government’s welfare reform and work bill.Baroness Grey-Thompson told fellow peers that many of those who provided evidence for their review said the proposed cut “would hinder their ability to undertake work-related activity, training, work placements and volunteering, as well as to get to and from work-focused interviews or indeed job interviews”.She said: “It would contradict the government’s aim to get more disabled people into work and would hurt some of the most vulnerable in society.“Instead, the government should focus on improving support for those who can take steps towards work.”Lord Low (pictured, during the debate) said the review – supported by seven of the largest disability charities – found “no evidence to suggest that disabled people can be incentivised into work by cutting their benefits”.He said: “Our review took place in the context of the government’s welcome aim to halve the disability employment gap.“It concluded, however, that the proposed cut to ESA would hinder rather than promote this aim.”Lord Low backed an amendment proposed by the crossbench peer Lord Patel that the cut should not come into force until the government published a report showing its impact on new WRAG claimants’ health, finances and ability to return to work.But the disabled Tory peer, Lord Blencathra, a former home office minister (as David Maclean), said carrying out such a report would simply be asking work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith for his “best guess” on what the impact would be.He said: “I suggest that we cannot demonstrate that it will work until it is implemented in practice.“I think we can get the incentives right. If we can achieve the end result of making employers recruit more disabled people, then this policy is worth testing in the medium term.”Lord Freud, the welfare reform minister, told peers that research suggested that increasing disability benefits had a negative effect on disabled people’s incentive to find work.He said: “There is a large body of evidence to show that work is generally good for physical and mental well-being and that, where their health condition permits, sick and disabled people should be encouraged and supported to remain in or to re-enter work as soon as possible.“That is why an important part of this change is the extra resource that we are putting into support to help bring that about.”He added: “We will continue to monitor the impact of this change over time through regular national statistics.”
Labour will be forced to think again about its approach to inclusive education, after concerns raised by a prominent disabled activist received resounding backing from party members.Richard Rieser told the party’s annual conference in Liverpool that part of a key policy document should not be approved because it did not commit Labour to a fully inclusive education policy if it won power.He said that, despite his involvement in discussions with the party’s National Policy Forum, at the invitation of Jeremy Corbyn, there was no such clear commitment in its annual report.Rieser, a prominent campaigner and consultant on inclusive education, proposed a call for the part of the document referring to children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to be “referenced back” to the policy forum.He told the conference (pictured) that the party’s 2017 general election manifesto had committed a Labour government to “a national inclusive education system”.He said: “Surely the point of a policy review is to take policy backwards, not forwards.“I know Jeremy supports this and Angela [Rayner, the shadow education secretary] supports this and many of the unions support it.”Rieser said the manifesto had also committed a Labour government to full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which commits governments that have signed up to the convention – including the UK – to work towards “an inclusive education system at all levels”.He told the conference later that despite the number of secondary school pupils rising by nearly 55,000 from 2014 to 2018, the number of teaching assistants – many of whom support disabled pupils in the classroom – had been cut by more than 6,000.Rieser’s proposal for the SEND section of the report to be referenced back to the forum received overwhelming approval from delegates.In her speech to conference later that day, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner appeared to suggest that a Labour government would demand a fully inclusive education system.Rayner said that children with SEND were often those who suffered most from staff shortages, so the National Education Service “charter” produced under a Labour government would guarantee that the service would be “truly inclusive”.She added: “That is why our shadow children’s minister Emma Lewell-Buck will lead plans to stop those with SEND from falling out of the school system.“And we would back it up with a record investment in modernising school buildings to make sure they are accessible to all who would learn in them.”The party had not responded to attempts to clarify by noon today (Thursday) what Rayner meant by a “truly inclusive” education system.Rayner also promised to bring all publicly-funded schools – including academies and free schools – back “into the mainstream public sector” and under the control of local authorities. A 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…
SAINTS would like to pass on their condolences to the family and friends of Emma Ratcliffe who tragically died at the age of 27 yesterday.Emma was a massive Saints’ fan and well known by players and staff at the club.Although she suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, she never let if affect her spirit and she was one of the bubbliest and most friendly people you are ever likely to meet.To be taken at such a young age doesn’t seem fair and she leaves behind her young daughter Mischa.Everyone at the club sends their sympathies to Emma’s parents John and Carol and to all her family and friends.
He comes into the squad to make his debut whilst Luke Douglas also returns for the clash.Tommy Lee and Danny Richardson miss out.Justin Holbrook will choose his 17 from:1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Matty Smith, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 16. Luke Thompson, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 20. Morgan Knowles, 28. Regan Grace, 32. Matty Lees, 36. Zeb Taia, 37. Ben Barba.Shaun Wane will chose his 17 from:1. Sam Tomkins, 3. Anthony Gelling, 4. Oliver Gildart, 5. Joe Burgess, 6. George Williams, 7. Thomas Leuluai, 8. Frank-Paul Nu’uausala, 9. Michael McIlorum, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean O’Loughlin, 14. John Bateman, 15. Tony Clubb, 16. Sam Powell, 17. Taulima Tautai, 19. Ryan Sutton, 20. Willie Isa, 23. Nick Gregson, 28. Jack Wells, 35. Liam Marshall.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee is Robert Hicks.Tickets for the clash remain on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.
That’s the thoughts of Saints Head Coach Justin Holbrook as he prepares his side to face the Airlie Birds this Friday.“Hull FC still have dangerous players but have had three of their best players out for a long time,” he said. “You can’t replace your three best players with three more best players so they are doing it tough.“I feel for Radders in that respect but we will worry about how we are going this week. They will come here looking to turn their season around.“We want to play well and win every game leading into the semi-finals but we know we will be judged on that semi-final and beyond. We want to play well with the best side that is fit enough for the next few weeks but we know we have to get it right at the semi.“We have a few doubts this week after the tough game at the weekend. Zeb Taia has a sore hip and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook has an ankle problem. If they recover they will play; if not, they won’t. Ryan Morgan will need another week and that is probably the same for James Roby too as he has a shoulder problem.“Ben Barba was due to play on Saturday but was a late withdrawal after our captain’s run. If he’s right, he will play.“I’ve said all year that I won’t rest players for the sake of it. If they are right to play they will play – if they aren’t then because we have secured a home semi-final we have earnt the right to rest players.“We’ve had some good news on Dom Peyroux too. The bone has healed well and he is due another scan next week. If that goes well he will be able to play. It will be great to have him back as he is an important part of team.“I would be good to get him a couple of games in ahead of the semi-final.”Saints put one hand on the League Leaders’ Shield with a 26-22 win in Catalans on Saturday – a result Holbrook was proud of.He continued: “To get up early in the day, fly over and get the win and then fly back – that was fantastic for us. The likes of Aaron Smith, Matty Lees and Jack Ashworth played really well as did the senior guys – Jon Wilkin, Jonny Lomax and Luke Thompson.“It is a hostile place to play so to come away with the win was great. We’re now looking forward to Friday.”Tickets for the game with Hull FC, which kicks off at 7:45pm, are on sale from the Ticket Office, by calling 01744 455058 or online here.