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Saturday, October 15, 2016

My Letter To Iain Duncan Smith

Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr. Duncan Smith,

You have stated that you resigned from cabinet over George Osborne's disability cuts, among other reasons. Bank of England's Governor Mark Carney is now warning that life will "get difficult" for the most vulnerable people in Britain as inflation rises in the coming months due to the sharp depreciation of sterling in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The Department for Work and Pensions says that it is scraping retesting for people with severe, lifelong conditions at the same time that there has been a sharp drop in Support Group awards and a sharp increase in people placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). Charities report that 45% of people who put in a claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), and had Parkinson’s, Cystic Fibrosis, Multiple Sclerosis, or Rheumatoid Arthritis, were placed in the WRAG. 

Unless rescinded, from April 2017, anyone put in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA) will receive the same benefit rate as jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), a loss of £30 a week. They will surely struggle to survive.
I would be most grateful if you would advise Work and Pensions secretary, Damian Green, and Chancellor Philip Hammond *not* to proceed with Osborne's life-threatening ESA WRAG cuts. A public statement against these pernicious cuts would also be appreciated.
Thanking you in advance for your assistance.

Samuel Miller

Friday, September 23, 2016

‘Regressing’ UK Government Fails To Meet 81 of 85 UN Human Rights Recommendations; Note from Samuel

Recommendations on the UK’s human rights record have not been implemented since 2012, a new report from the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) has said.
The BIHR’s analysis shows that the UK government has failed to fully meet 81 out of 85 recommendations made by the United Nations (UN) in 2012 to improve domestic human rights protections.
Areas covered include poverty, welfare and adequate standard of living, about which the BIHR warned: “Recent policy and legislative changes have seen a regression in standards of living and the welfare system’s ability to tackle poverty, homelessness and worklessness. This is having a negative impact on vulnerable social groups.”
The report said that the Welfare Reform Act 2012 will have a negative effect on vulnerable groups, including 100,000 disabled children losing up to £28 a week and up to 20% of families affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ being unable to pay the higher rate of rent.
Other welfare reforms which the report highlights include the household benefit cap, which the Supreme Court has ruled violates the UN Human Rights Convention, and the increased use of benefit sanctions, which it says have been linked to destitution and not proven to encourage people back into work.
It warned that new measures introduced by the government also fall short of helping the most vulnerable.
The national living wage, for example, does not apply to under-25s and is not set in accordance with recommendations from the Living Wage Foundation.
The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 raises concerns for freezing working-age benefits for four years from April 2017, removing child tax credit entitlement for families of more than three children, and abolishing the Child Poverty Act 2010, which mandates statutory targets on child poverty.
The report also highlighted the housing crisis and rising homelessness rates as a human rights concern.
By 2031, England will have 2.5 million fewer homes than needed. Almost 30% of private sector tenants are in substandard housing, and there has been a 30% increase in homelessness in the past year.

Major recommendations

The BIHR said the UK government should monitor and review the impact of welfare reforms on living standards, pause and review its sanctioning policy, abolish the bedroom tax, and adjust the rate of the living wage.
In addition, the report said it was “vital” that the government abandons plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights and instead strengthens existing human rights protections.
It called on the government to ensure the UK’s exit from the European Union does not have a negative effect on human rights, and to allow devolved administrations to report on how they are dealing with human rights issues.
Other areas of concern raised by the report include violence against women and girls, with funding for women’s shelters facing 31% cuts, dangerous conditions in prisons and increasing hate crime reports.
Stephen Bowen, chief executive of BIHR, said: “The UK Government needs to listen, not just to the United Nations but to the voices of the huge range of organisations closer to home that have shared their serious concerns with the British Institute of Human Rights.
“They are troubled the Government is taking the UK towards further isolationism and disregarding the United Nations, worsening the situation with welfare and legal aid cuts, and wanting to scrap the Human Rights Act, weakening its accountability for our rights at home as well as internationally.”
The report is based on evidence from 175 civil society organisations, including Age UK, Unison and the End Violence Against Women Coalition.
But a government spokesperson said: “The UK is a confident, strong and dependable partner internationally – true to the universal values shared by the United Nations.
“As a nation we continue to fully comply to our international human rights obligations and we continue to take action to tackle any abuse of these rights. This includes working together with the UN to adapt a global response to mass migration and reducing the threat from international terrorism, stamping out modern slavery, championing the rights of women and girls and abhorring sexual violence in conflict.”

Note from Samuel: Please read My Disability Studies Blackboard: The UNCRPD is legally unenforceable; Iain Duncan Smith will be let off the hook by the UN; in particular, the last paragraph:

 A verdict of guilty would embarrass the British government on the world stage, but the UN treaty repercussions would be relatively minor. I am therefore recommending that a human rights lawsuit be filed against the DWP in conjunction with a UN CRPD "grave and systematic" violations finding.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Please Support This Urgent Fundraising Appeal

Hi, my name is Mandi. However you came to hear about my blog thank you so much for taking the time to learn about the distressing situation I now find myself in. Like thousands of other people registered as disabled in the UK, I am another victim of the government's cruel and extreme cuts to disability benefits. Benefits desperately needed to make ends meet. I suffer from Multiple sclerosis (MS) which affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of symptoms including problems with muscle movement, balance and vision. There is no cure for this condition, it will only get worse over time. I have worked hard all my life but when the MS struck the symptoms were so debilitating everything became much harder, including my job. I continued working for as long as I could, then my health deteriorated so drastically that working became impossible. Like most people on benefits, I am not a "scrounger" as the government and mainstream media like to label people. Like most people I had lived a regular life and paid my taxes for many decades, but as my MS got worse I needed the welfare system as my safety net, the system I had contributed to for many decades through my working years. While I was working I was able to buy my own one-bedroomed flat, but I am now in the desperate position of having to seriously consider selling my home, a small flat that is adapted to meet my needs as an MS sufferer, and to then rent that same flat back off a company for three times what my mortgage payments have been. I have no other means of supporting myself and I live with the constant fear that my ESA and DLA will be cut back to nothing at all before too long now, for this seems to be the government's agenda. If I lose my home I will be completely at the mercy of the government and could well end up as another homeless disabled person. The dread of that terrifies me and is affecting my mental wellbeing now , so my health problems are compounding as the months go on. I am asking everyone to has kindly read this page if they would consider donating a small amount to help me keep my flat, so that I don't have to sell it, and lose the last bit of security I have. Any amount you can afford to give would be so gratefully appreciated, even £1 would be really helpful. If you aren't in a position to donate any money, you could still help so much by sharing this blog.

If I can secure my living accommodation I know my mental wellbeing will improve no end and that will help me manage my MS symptoms much better once again. My ultimate goal is to come off benefits and work from home, proofreading, this will give me a small income to at least meet the bills and eat, without the distress of claiming disability benefits, but my health condition needs to be more under control than it currently is, for me to be able to do that. Thank you so much for reading about my desperate situation. I know many others are suffering and I send my best wishes to all of them and I urge them to try to stay strong, as I am trying to do. I send my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who is able to help me find a way out of the dreadful situation I have found myself in through no fault of my own, I was just unlucky enough to develop MS. Thank you for your time, Mandi

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The UNCRPD is legally unenforceable; Iain Duncan Smith will be let off the hook by the UN

The United Nation's Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has launched an inquiry into Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms to determine if they constitute 'grave and systematic' violations of the human rights of disabled people. Catalina Aguilar, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, will pay a visit to Britain in the next few months as part of the probe.

As most of my readers know, I have been reporting frequently and voluntarily, since January of 2012, to the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on the welfare crisis for Britain's sick and disabled. While I most certainly welcome this inquiry and acknowledge its very critical importance, I regret to inform you that the UNCRPD is unenforceable.
Britain signed up to this Convention under the last Labour government. On 8 June 2009, the UK government ratified the Convention, signaling its commitment to take concrete action to comply with the legal rights and obligations contained in the Convention. The Government has also ratified the Convention’s Optional Protocol.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a side-agreement to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It was adopted on 13 December 2006, and entered into force at the same time as its parent Convention on 3 May 2008. As of July 2015, it has 92 signatories and 87 state parties.

The Optional Protocol (OP-CRPD) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) allows for individual complaints to be submitted to the CRPD Committee by individuals and groups of individuals, or by a third party1 on behalf of individuals and groups of individuals, alleging that their rights have been violated under the CRPD. Complaints may only be communicated against a State party that has ratified or acceded to the OP and only upon the exhaustion of all available and effective domestic remedies. If the CRPD Committee makes a finding that the State has failed in its obligations under the CRPD, it will issue a decision requiring that the violation be remedied and for the State party to provide follow up information.
As of 8 May 2013, 76 States have ratified or acceded to the OP-CRPD, and 91 States are signatories. To date, the CRPD Committee has adopted views on three individual communications, finding violations in two of them and declaring one inadmissible.2
The OP-CRPD is one of the communications mechanisms of the UN treaty bodies.3 Other treaty bodies which have similar complaints mechanisms include: the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture, the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The OP to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Protection of all Migrant Workers also have complaints mechanisms which are not yet in force, while the individual complaint procedure of the Convention the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances came into force in December 2010. In June 2011, the final draft Optional Protocol establishing a communications procedure for violations of rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the Human Rights Council, and is now awaiting discussion and adoption by the General Assembly’s Third Committee.
1 See OHCHR Fact sheet and Guidelines on the procedure for submitting communications to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities under the OP-CRPD, available in English, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese.
2 Violations were found by the Committee in: HM v Sweden, Communication no 3/2011, CRPD/C/7/D/3/2011, 19 April 2012, and Szilvia Nyusti & Péter Takács v Hungary, Communication no 1/2010, CRPD/C/9/D/1/2010, 16 April 2013. The Committee declared Kenneth McAlpine v The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Communication no 6/2011, CRPD/C/8/D/6/2011, 28 September 2012, inadmissible ratione temporis under article 2(f) of the Optional Protocol, on account that the alleged violations took place before the entry into force for the State Party of the Convention and the Optional Protocol which do not have retroactive effect. See the CRPD Committee’s website dedicated to its jurisprudence. IDA case summaries of the Committee’s views are available at
3 The term “treaty bodies” in this text will exclusively refer to the UN treaty monitoring bodies.

Like other treaty bodies equipped with complaints mechanisms, the CRPD Committee is NOT (emphasis mine) a court with judicial powers; the OP-CRPD provides a quasi-judicial procedure in which the resultant decisions of the CRPD Committee are not legally enforceable such as domestic court judgments, or some other regional judicial mechanisms (e.g. European Court of Human Rights). If a violation is found, the views of the Committee are transmitted to the State party and constitute recommendations that need to be implemented by the State party and reported on back to the Committee within six months. While technically they may not be legally binding, the decisions of the CRPD Committee will be authoritative interpretations of the CRPD, and beyond the realm of application within the State party involved in a complaint, decisions will be of great value in the exercise of implementing provisions on the ground in all States parties to the CRPD.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of the communications mechanism depends on the political will of the State party to recognise the competence of the Committee and to abide by their decisions. Yet initially, the use of communications procedure will depend on sufficient awareness of the instrument and the capacity of individuals, organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and NGOs to identify victims, recognise violations and to lodge complaints to the CRPD Committee in accordance with the provisions of the OP-CRPD. 

Eight months ago, I wrote that I expected the UN to "eventually determine the UK government guilty of “grave or systemic violations” of the rights of disabled people, and possibly other thematic categories of human rights violations. The most serious penalty levied would be a downgrade to "B" of Britain's "A-list" human rights status. Institutions accredited by the UN with "A-list" status enjoy much greater access to UN human rights treaty bodies and other organs. They can participate fully in the international and regional work and meetings of national institutions, as voting members. They are also able to participate in sessions of the Human Rights Council and take the floor under any agenda item, submit documentation and take up separate seating.If reduced to "B" status, they participate as observers. They may not take the floor under agenda items or submit documentation to the Human Rights Council. Countries with human rights organisations on the A-list include nearly all western European nations as well as Azerbaijan and Indonesia. Those with "B-list" status include Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and Congo-Brazzaville."

A verdict of guilty would embarrass the British government on the world stage, but the UN treaty repercussions would be relatively minor.  I am therefore recommending that a human rights lawsuit be filed against the DWP in conjunction with a UN CRPD "grave and systematic" violations finding.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

A message from candidate Michael Green, who is standing against Grant Shapps, supported by Political Scrapbook

I'll get straight to the point:
Tory chairman Grant Shapps has been pretending to be 'Michael Green'. Well my name really is Michael Green. And I'm pretty pissed off.
So I've decided to embarrass him by standing against him in his own constituency. That's right: his secret pseudonym will be joining him on the ballot paper.
But to take on Shapps my campaign needs to raise an election deposit of £500 – that's over 700 dollars in internet marketing money.
The deadline for us to register is 4pm today. We will use donations after this to cover other campaign costs e.g. posters. Can you chip in?
All supporters will get campaign updates and exclusive first access to our funny campaign video. Those giving £10 or more will be sent an official 'VOTE FOR MICHAEL GREEN' campaign rosette, while those giving £30 or more get a rosette AND a T-shirt (designs to be finalised).
But that's not all!
Every single pound you give will be matched by a MYSTERY DONOR!
Yes. It's a bit like having a magic money tree.
Donate now to double your money.
Yes. Michael Green is my legal name and will appear on ballot papers.
This is not a joke. Okay. It is a joke, but I am still taking on Shapps in his own back yard,Welwyn Hatfield constituency in Hertfordshire.
Click here to donate.

Monday, March 30, 2015

EDF Will Present The Priorities Of The Disability Movement To The UN Committee

Brussels, 30 March 2015 | This Thursday 2 April, the disability movement will be at Geneva to meet the UN Committee and discuss its concerns on how the EU implements the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
The EU has ratified the UN Convention in 2010 making it the 1st international human rights treaty that has ever been ratified by a regional organisation. By ratifying the UN Convention, the EU has agreed to take important steps for equal rights and full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all areas of life. Find more about what the UN Convention foresees at the UN website
Last year, the EU had to submit a report to the UN Committee to explain what actions it has taken in favor of its 80 million citizens with disabilities. On 2 April 2015, the UN Committee in Geneva will examine for the first time the report by the EU. Find more about the EU review process on our website
To give the view of citizens with disabilities and cover gaps that the EU report has, EDF prepared the EDF Alternative Report on the implementation of the UN Convention by the EU, based on the expertise of its members all around Europe, civil society organisations and other stakeholders.
Throughout the EU review process, EDF will be in Geneva and follow the dialogue between the EU and the UN Committee closely. On 2 April, EDF will also meet the UN Committee. In this meeting, EDF will defend its Alternative Report and express to the UN Committee its main concerns on the implementation of the Convention by the EU. 
EDF will report regularly on what is happening in Geneva! Follow all the latest updates on EDF website, facebook and twitter (hashtag: #EDFreportCRPD).
Find out more!

·         WHAT DOES EDF DO?

Contact EDF!

·         Catherine Naughton | EDF director |
·         An-Sofie Leenknecht | EDF human rights officer |

Lila Sylviti
European Disability Forum | nothing about us without us
tel +32 2 282 46 04 | fax +32 2 282 46 09 -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

MediaWatch: Watching the right-wing media (E-Mail to me from Left Foot Forward)

Dear Left Foot Forward reader,

Apologies for the out of the blue email like this, but I wanted to make you aware of a new project at Left Foot Forward which aims to highlight and counter spin, misinformation and bias in the right-wing press.

Launching today, MediaWatch is being led by new addition to the Left Foot Forward team Adam Barnett, a highly experienced journalist with a passion for accurate reporting.

You can follow MediaWatch on Twitter here and access the MediaWatch page on Left Foot Forward here.

As an added bonus, you will get a Saturday email from Adam with a weekly round-up of MediaWatch stories (you can opt-out of that email by unsubscribing from it on a Saturday - you will continue to receive the LFF daily email).

Here's a taster of what we've done at MediaWatch so far:

Daily Mail says ‘beware’ of migrants hiding in your car

‘Better off’ with the Tories? Don’t believe a word of it

The Sun is a bit choosy about YouGov polls


We hope you enjoy the project.

All the best, James.

Follow Left Foot Forward on Twitter: @LeftFootFwd