Author Topic: welfare reform in Northern Ireland - we are all going to be better off!!  (Read 2081 times)

Glummum

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Has anyone here from NI read last night's article in the BT written by John Simpson, economist? He keeps writing and talking about welfare reform in the media and how it is going to 'incentivise', his article said last night that everyone was going to benefit from it all. Yes he used this pun.

No-one seems to have picked up his continual pontifications on this - yes he is an Economist - but maybe we would expect him to talk things up, but really no-one seems to contradict him. And yet there has been deaths here of people who have been deemed fit for work. I know we are getting Capita rather than Atos, and assessments apparently will be done at home, and we seem to have avoided (for now) the bedroom tax because of poor housing stock and the religious divide. And, apparently, injured service personnel from the 'troubles' will be exempt from assessments - but is this true?
Of course the welfare bill has not gone through our assembly yet, and John Simpson and others keep arguing to get it through asap as it will cost us more in the long run if we don't implement the reforms.
People seem to be very quiet here about all of this, John Simpson keeps chirping on, and the disability campaign groups are silent, So, are we all going to better off >confused<

NeuralgicNeurotic

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So, are we all going to better off >confused<

In a word, no. Welfare Reform is going to be a bloody disaster here, and a lot of people up at Stormont know it. The problem is that a lot of other people either agree with the proposals, or just don't care.

It's worrying that Simpson has resurfaced though. He was a favourite with UTV and Radio Ulster when this issue first raised its ugly head back in 2011. He's a visiting professor at UUJ, but so far I've had no success in tracking down his contact details, so that I could ask him just what, precisely, someone whose speciality is Business and Economics thinks he knows about disability benefits.

I can only assume that this means that our beloved Nelson is going for the 'big push'. The Bill was due to have been debated back in April, and that debate has been postponed twice. There are some effective people on the Social Development Committee who have bothered to get acquainted with the issues, and have managed to table some sensible amendments, but what will happen when the Bill re-enters the Assembly is anyone's guess. Both of the nationalist parties are opposed, as are some sections of the unionists. Alliance will be the deciding factor, and their track record on this issue isn't encouraging.

I agree that the broadcast media here has been suspiciously quiet, as have some of the more prominent disability groups - the response to the first PIP consultation, for instance,  was a joke. There is a fair amount of lobbying going on behind the scenes, from the likes of the Law Society for Northern Ireland, Advice NI etc, and I know that representatives from Mencap were amongst those who have submitted evidence to the Social Development Committee, but I certainly agree that there's a distinct lack of urgency out there.

Here's a link to the article, if anyone fancies a depressingly familiar read:

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/opinion/john-simpson/welfare-system-must-be-reformed-28725407.html

sherbs

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A bit off topic, but....

My Parents live in the south of ireland, and as i have mentioned before, mother had a stroke last september, she is 81 and father is 85.

She came out of the re-hab unit after 7 weeks, and to be honest it was a really good place, she went straight from the hospital to the re-hab unit, but when she left there well thats when it all went pear-shaped in a big way.

My father (85) is expected to be at home for 24/7 to be with mother as she cant be left alone, due to falling.  She gets a lady (care worker ??) each morning for 1/2 hr to help her wash and dress, this is going to be stopped to 3 days soon, and then stopped all together.

We have been told they will have to pay for any care they need, so feel really so very lucky they have her care worker at all, but what happens when she has to leave.??

They are only on a state pension, father cannot claim carers allowance, due to his state pension, (we had to find all this out from over here in england, as they have no clue about  benefits etc.) So me and sister have been ringing the GP, Health service continually trying to find out what they are entitled to, it seems Nothing !!!

They have no package of care in the south, they have diddly squat.  Me and sis and brother all live over here, so we go over to help as much as we can, infact sis goes over every 2nd weekend to shop, clean and make dinners to freeze.

We have been told by the Nurse ( who has now been pulled out) that things were better last year and they would have been entitled to more care and help, and that things are going to get even worse.

It sickens me to see mother and father as they are, they have both worked all their lives, for what   ???.

I know things are just as bad over here, but this is just awful. 

Father still drives ( thats if he can get out as he has been told mother needs 24/7 watching), and he manages to pop out for a paper in the alloted 1/2 hr. 

Sorry to go on, but it really, really annoys me how they are just being left with sod all.

Rant over    >steam<

NeuralgicNeurotic

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Sherbs >bighugs<

No need to apologise. That's a terrible state of affairs.

sherbs

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NN

Thanks for the hugs, i need them at the moment (all hugs welcome please).

Going to see the Parents next Wednesday with Sis, taking them to Galway where we rent a house out for 10 days this time, (usually just 7 days).

Decided to go for a bit longer as who knows how much longer they will be around, the state they are in at the moment is really telling on them, they now actually look old    :-(

I have already told my son that i will go into a home rather then him go through what my sister is doing at the moment, and i really mean that, i do not want to be a burden on him (not that Parents are a burden, but you all know what i mean)

We will still have a great time, as we always do when we get them out of there little 200 yr old cottage and off to Galway / Connemarra, and we always make the most of our precious time together     :-)


Isnt is amazing how you can just rant away here, and still get hugs and feel much better about things going on in your life.  Thanks to all here on ouch too     >hugs<

Glummum

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Hi Sherbs that is awful, things look so bad in ROI, I listen to Joe Duffy, it just goes from bad to worse, I wonder is there an ouchtoo type board in ROI?


Glummum

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Hi NeuralgicNeurotic, It makes me wonder why there is no discussion about the welfare reforms here in the media, I don't see the big charities coming out (openly) unless there is work going on the background. Overall, what do you think about disability politics here in NI? Is there any disability politics here at all? There is an awful lot of apathy too. You just have to read their discussions from the Assembly and see just how out of their depth most of them are and how simplistic they are about things.

I sent a reply to John Simpson's piece telling him to be careful what he wished for etc, and of course they have not printed it unless it's in tomorrows paper. But I just wish the big campaigning charity and you know who i mean i'm sure would speak up, sitting on the fence I think - maybe afraid to offend their funders.

I hope NN you will keep us posted on how this is all going, there is nowhere else to find out this sort of info, and I do try to keep on top of it all too, GM

seegee

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From the BT article, about DLA:- "The numbers in Northern Ireland are nearly double the English average."

Nothing at all to do with the number (per head of population) of injuries sustained by civilians, police and army being a lot higher than the English average in the last few decades, or by the resulting physical and mental effects on those people, their families, friends & neighbours.  Nothing to do with the stress of living for years with the much higher risk of such injuries for many people living in urban areas.  No, now the "troubles" are over (or not, haven't there been some recent attacks?) nobody can be at all affected in any way by the things that went on for years. >doh<  If he thinks everything is now sorted so NI should be exactly the same as England the man's a fool.  I suppose everybody now lives in perfect contentedness in his shiny la-la land.

I know that most of the soldiers weren't from NI and that some of them are quite likely to be claiming DLA in other parts of UK - they are more spread out among the much larger population of the island called Great Britain though, so the overall effect is much less striking when the stats are compared.  I'm not trying to downplay the effect on those people themselves, I know devastating things have followed for some (I know a couple of ex-soldiers who still have severe MI a good few years after their service finished).

It's less obvious here as there are more people who were not affected in any personal way.
Most of the people living on Gt. Britain didn't feel as if they were under daily threat of being shot or bombed (Manchester was bombed; though there was a lot of property damage as it was a large explosion, no-one was killed - many people were injured by flying glass, etc.) so the effect on civilians was a lot less too. 
Most of us didn't see armed police or troops on the streets of our towns every day, didn't fear that we'd be badly beaten or shot if we expressed an opinion about any or all people involved in the violence, didn't expect to hear about/ see a neighbour or family member being beaten or shot, didn't have to take care not to be observed talking to someone from the "wrong" part of town... but there's no reason for the proportion of people claiming DLA to be higher in NI than in the rest of the UK. >erm<  >erm-thinking<

NeuralgicNeurotic

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Glummum - sorry for the late reply to this.

My view on disability politics here is that its pretty much non existent - for instance, I can't off the top of my head think of a single local organisation that's actually led by disabled people. You raise a good point about the wish of existing organisations not to alienate their funders, but I think other factors are at play as well. I think there's still a post 'Troubles' hangover effect going on - for so long this stuff had to be done under the radar, so to speak, and although we've had an approximation of peace for some time now, things relating to disability issues, women's issues, child poverty etc, still go on more or less in the background, because no-one knows of any other way to do it. I think fears about stigma play a part too. I spent most of the late 90s and early 2000s attending a day centre run by a prominent local MH charity, and often asked why centre members weren't encouraged to be more politically engaged, and why the charity itself didn't speak out more about MH issues. I was told that due to high levels of prejudice about MH concerns, they couldn't risk turning the centre or its members into targets, and while this was a number of years ago, it shows how much work still needs to be done.

As for the media, sometimes I think its not so much a case of what you know as who you know. A friend of mine has some contacts in the local BBC, and managed to get a story about poor conditions at Windsor psychiatric ward on to Newsline, and also to get some awkward questions asked of the lovely Nelson about the WCA on Sunday Politics NI, but such cases are few and far between. Last year Channel 4 News carried a story about disability hate crime, recounting the plight of a man in Lisburn who had been subjected to the most atrocious harassment, and asking why the PSNI had not identified the attacks as hate crime. Nothing appeared about the story locally.

I'll certainly continue to post anything of relevance to disability and welfare reform here >thumbsup<

NeuralgicNeurotic

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Nothing at all to do with the number (per head of population) of injuries sustained by civilians, police and army being a lot higher than the English average in the last few decades, or by the resulting physical and mental effects on those people, their families, friends & neighbours.  Nothing to do with the stress of living for years with the much higher risk of such injuries for many people living in urban areas.  No, now the "troubles" are over (or not, haven't there been some recent attacks?) nobody can be at all affected in any way by the things that went on for years. >doh<  If he thinks everything is now sorted so NI should be exactly the same as England the man's a fool.  I suppose everybody now lives in perfect contentedness in his shiny la-la land.

That's pretty much it, seegee. The fact that the highest number of DLA claims for MH conditions or drug or alcohol dependency tend to occur in those areas worst affected by violence, or most subject to control by paramilitary organisations seems to have escaped his attention.

But hey - we should all just pull ourselves together and get over it. >erm<

The man's a plank.

starsmurf

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From the BT article, about DLA:- "The numbers in Northern Ireland are nearly double the English average."

Nothing at all to do with the number (per head of population) of injuries sustained by civilians, police and army being a lot higher than the English average in the last few decades, or by the resulting physical and mental effects on those people, their families, friends & neighbours.  Nothing to do with the stress of living for years with the much higher risk of such injuries for many people living in urban areas.  No, now the "troubles" are over (or not, haven't there been some recent attacks?) nobody can be at all affected in any way by the things that went on for years. >doh<  If he thinks everything is now sorted so NI should be exactly the same as England the man's a fool.  I suppose everybody now lives in perfect contentedness in his shiny la-la land.

I know that most of the soldiers weren't from NI and that some of them are quite likely to be claiming DLA in other parts of UK - they are more spread out among the much larger population of the island called Great Britain though, so the overall effect is much less striking when the stats are compared.  I'm not trying to downplay the effect on those people themselves, I know devastating things have followed for some (I know a couple of ex-soldiers who still have severe MI a good few years after their service finished).

It's less obvious here as there are more people who were not affected in any personal way.
Most of the people living on Gt. Britain didn't feel as if they were under daily threat of being shot or bombed (Manchester was bombed; though there was a lot of property damage as it was a large explosion, no-one was killed - many people were injured by flying glass, etc.) so the effect on civilians was a lot less too. 
Most of us didn't see armed police or troops on the streets of our towns every day, didn't fear that we'd be badly beaten or shot if we expressed an opinion about any or all people involved in the violence, didn't expect to hear about/ see a neighbour or family member being beaten or shot, didn't have to take care not to be observed talking to someone from the "wrong" part of town... but there's no reason for the proportion of people claiming DLA to be higher in NI than in the rest of the UK. >erm<  >erm-thinking<

Seegee,

I worked in NI for a while so I totally agree with your comments.  I was lucky, I arrived at the time of the Good Friday Agreement, so it was a lot better than it would've been a few years earlier.  However, I was there for the Omagh bombing, so I know the fear of just going about your daily life with the knowledge that a trip to do your shopping could be the last thing you ever do.  I found that when I came back to Scotland to see my family, I was still thinking the same way as in NI.  My family thought I was joking when I said I felt frightened at the sight of a parked car in the main shopping street.  I wasn't.

Due to the Troubles, there has also been higher rates of poverty in NI.  There is a link between poverty and disability, part of it is because when you first feel sick, you can't take time off to recover.  That can lead to your condition or injury becoming worse and possibly permenant.  There is also the fact that those in trades are performing harder labour than say, a hedge-fund manager.  Spending your life doing hard physical labour will leave you with more problems than developing tennis elbow due to quaffing champange.

I loved NI, it's a great place but to pretend that the Troubles haven't left their scars on thousands of people is disgusting.  Whoever wrote that piece is either ignorant or ignoring facts because they don't suit their argument.
Look carefully at the avatar, note what's barely visible in the gap in the rings.  I've highlighted it for you.

Glummum

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Thank you NN please keep us posted on what is going on here. Yes I know we are all post conflict and there is still a hangover from the troubles, but its incredible just how slow things are in the disability politics end of things. I don't think there is much going on here at all, and I think there is only one or two DPO's here, but they are very small. Its very interesting how many people are working in organisations who are not disabled themselves.Needless to say my letter to BT re John Simpson was not printed. I am a parent of a young disabled adult, please don't let the word parent put you off though, we are regarded as quite radical at times, simply because no on else challenges the status quo. Have you noticed the Integrated Educated campaign for example never mentions disability? Oh I think we are years behind to be honest!

NeuralgicNeurotic

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Hi again Glummum.

I'm not in the slightest bit put off by the word 'parent'. There are lots of parents on this forum (although I happen not to be one of them).

What you wrote about the Integrated Education campaign doesn't surprise me at all. 'Integrated education' seems to have only one meaning here, and for some bizarre reason, it doesn't include children and young people who are sick or disabled. It's a pretty sad reflection on this place that people who want a decent education for their children are seen as radical!

Glummum

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Yes, and I emailed a few MLA's about the Integrated Ed Campaign not mentioning disability - but they just could not see my point, one MLA replied telling me that 'mentioning' disability in the campaign would actually 'damage' it - I kid you not!  It's the same with the Shared Future stuff - no mention of disability there either. When you start looking for these things its amazing what comes up - or doesn't.

I think parents are proxy service users on behalf of their children yet parents are not involved as service users. There is a big emphasis on Children's Participation, it is all over the place - asking children about the services they receive- I agree that children should be asked about things - and this is all based on UN Rights of the Child. However, what is really going on, is that this is being used disingenuously to avoid involving parents talking to policy makers. To make matters worse, public consultations re children's disability service planning is not carried out by a disability organisation.  Too many 'experts' and too many snouts in the trough I think!

NeuralgicNeurotic

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Yes, and I emailed a few MLA's about the Integrated Ed Campaign not mentioning disability - but they just could not see my point, one MLA replied telling me that 'mentioning' disability in the campaign would actually 'damage' it - I kid you not!

Ye gods! Which leading mind of the C19th came up with that!? How on earth would mentioning disability damage the campaign??

As for emailing MLAs, I've had the best results by going directly to members of committees and All Party Groups. Occasionally you come across one who actually has a faint idea of what they're doing, although I did encounter one MLA who hilariously denied being a member of an APG he was registered as belonging to!

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It's the same with the Shared Future stuff - no mention of disability there either.

Don't get me started on that one. What I find especially galling is that disabled people are a named group under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act, but when it comes to tackling the disadvantages faced by many sick and disabled people here, there's little said and even less done. While it's obvious that racism and sectarianism are huge problems to solve, trying to pretend that disability issues are any less worthy of attention is just unacceptable.

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To make matters worse, public consultations re children's disability service planning is not carried out by a disability organisation.

I'm sad to say it, but again, it doesn't come as much of a surprise. A disability organisation might make sensible suggestions, and that would never do.

My other bugbear regarding many consultation exercises is that there's very little encouragement towards participation. The consultations are not widely publicised outside of specialist bodies such as charities, so individuals with valuable experience of actually using services cannot easily get their voices heard. Disability Action do publicise consultations in the news section of their website, but aside from that, information is pretty thin on the ground.

I agree wholeheartedly with your point about the exclusion of parents from policy formation. The issues facing sick and disabled people, whether they're adults or children, often affect the whole family, so how the needs of one group can be usefully studied in isolation is beyond me.