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ICOD and Inclusion Scotland recently held an event on the 2nd of December to mark International Disabled Persons Day, helping to inform local disabled people of the changes the UK co-allition government are making to the benefits system.
The government is currently implementing the most radical changes to the benefits system since those introduced after the second world war. These will have a major negative impact on the most disadvantaged members of society, including Disabled people.
For members unable to attend on the day below are the main details of the reform:
Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance
Changes are already underway to Incapacity Benefit, with people being re-assessed for the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) benefit. Assessments are being carried out by a private company called ATOS, with 38% of claimants being found “fully fit for work”. Those found “fully fit for work” are then moved onto Jobseekers Allowance, which is paid at a lower rate of £67.50, lessening people’s already low incomes. ATOS and the assessment process have came under a great deal of criticism from disability organisations, MPs and others. Of those who appeal decisions by ATOS, 40% have their benefits re-instated, indicating that the assessment process is deeply flawed.
Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payment
The Government are also proposing to change the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) benefit, which will become a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The changes are designed to save 20% of the DLA budget, with a loss of £268 Million pounds for disabled people in Scotland alone. 1 in 3 disabled people in Scotland would need to loose their DLA completely to reach this target. The new PIP benefit will not have an equivalent of the Lower Rate Care of DLA, which is currently claimed by 1130 disabled people in Inverclyde alone. These changes will be implemented in 2013/14, and current claimants between 16 and 65 will be re-assessed using a similar process to that for the new Employment Support Allowance.
We have included a useful guide with this Linkability informing you what to do if called for a medical assessment, and how you can help ICOD and Inclusion Scotland campaign against these cuts.
If you missed our event on the 2nd of December, we can send you copies of the information pack, and also the presentations from our guest speakers (Professor Adrian Sinfield, University of Edinburgh, Morag Gillespie, Research Fellow with the Poverty Information Unit and Bill Scott, Project Manager with Inclusion Scotland).
Contact the ICOD Offices on tel: 01475 732700, email firstname.lastname@example.org or minicom 01475 732995
Inclusion Scotland are currently running a campaign supported by ICOD asking disabled people to write to their MSPs to tell them how the UK Government’s welfare reforms will affect them, and to ask MSPs to ask the UK Westminster Government to reconsider the changes before the Scottish Parliament pass a “legislative consent motion”.
It is vitally important that our MSPs understand the effect that the Welfare Reform will have on the disabled people in their communities, as well as the extra pressures they will put on local and Scottish governments.
Below is a link to the form letter you can use at Inclusion Scotland's Website.
Below are the Address Details for MSPs serving the Inverclyde Area
20 Union Street
West of Scotland Region MSPs
Neil Bibby and Margaret McDougall
1st Floor, 4 St Mirren Street
The Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament
10 Shuttle Street
Stewart Maxwell & Stuart McMillan
West Scotland SNP Office
Unit 3003, Mile End Mill
Abbey Mill Business Centre, 12 Seedhill Road
When You are called for a Medical Assessment…
The Medical Services provider will contact you to tell you the date, time and location of your appointment. This will usually be at a medical centre near where you live, however if you will have difficulty getting there you can request a home visit.
It is important to attend the assessment, but if you are unable to attend you should contact the provider and let them know.
You can have support at the appointment from people who know you well like family or support staff, so take someone with you if you can.
Preparing for the appointment…
You will be asked for some identification to prove who you are, this can be your Passport, but if you do not have one you need to produce 3 other forms of identification which can include a driving licence, birth certificate or recent bank statements.
You should also bring along any current medication you are on, or a recent printout of your repeat prescription list. Also take along any small aids that you regularly use (i.e. walking stick, hearing aid etc) and make a list of other aids or adaptations you use (i.e. mobility scooter, grabrails, walk in shower). It is a good idea to list or write down how your condition affects you before the appointment, so that you can fully explain the impact of your disability.
At the Appointment…
At the appointment you will be asked questions about your medical condition, and you should take along any information in writing you have about your condition, and any letters from doctors or consultants. If you feel that the questions you are asked do not fully explain your condition and how it affects you, you should make sure the assessor gives you the opportunity to state these.
They may also do a physical examination. This means checking things to do with your body like your blood pressure, walking or bending and stretching.
After the Appointment…
You will receive a decision letter based on the medical assessment, you can ask the DWP for a copy of the report.
If you are not happy with the decision…
You need to lodge an appeal against the decision within 30 days, this can be done using a GL24 form. You can get assistance to complete this form from the organisations listed below. These organisations can also help you list the reasons why you do not agree with the medical report and decision.
ICOD strongly recommend seeking assistance with your appeal, this will strengthen your chances of winning the appeal.
Attending a Tribunal…
If you are asked to attend an independent tribunal for your appeal, it is important to be prepared in advance with your reasons you disagree with the decision. You can also take someone along to support you with you to the appeal, this can be a relative or a friend or someone from a support organisation. Current evidence suggests that taking someone with you can often double your chances of winning your appeal.
The re-assessment process is not easy and can be demoralising, however 40% of those who appeal win their case. ICOD and other organisations are available to give you practical and moral support.
Where to get Help...
The Following organisations are available locally to help with the re-assessment process:
Welfare Rights - Inverclyde Council
Old Municipal Buildings
29 West Stewart Street
Inverclyde Council on Disability
10 Clyde Square
Minicom: 01475 732995
Managing your finances...
If you require help in managing and dealing with debt or household budgeting you can also get assistance from the Money Matters Team. They can be contacted using the details below:
Money Matters Inverclyde
tel: 01475 715965
Mon – Thurs 08.45am - 4.30pm
Fri 08.45am - 3.30pm
ICOD have been recently working with McGill’s Bus services to raise awareness of the various types of mobility equipment that are able to access buses in the McGill’s fleet and helped them produce a information guide for drivers. We have also discussed the accessibility of their buses on their services to Largs/Dunoon and Glasgow. Not all buses on these routes (X7, 901, 906 and 908) are accessible, however they are working towards becoming fully compliant well before the legal deadline of 2015. McGill’s have advised that customers can contact them on the day of travel to find out which departures will be accessible that day by calling 0800 515253.
Anyone experiencing accessibility problems with McGill’s services can contact ICOD and we will be happy to take the issue up with them.
Parklea Branching Out has a selection of seasonal arrangements and other items including Holly Wreaths, hanging baskets and bedding plants available for sale. Their Christmas display is on show from the 1st of December, and the project can be visited at Parklea Playing Fields, Greenock Road, Port Glasgow, PA 14 6TR. You can also contact them by phone on 01475 744516 or take a look at their website www.parkleaassociation.org.uk (this link opens in a new window)
The festive season is a favourite time for scammers and fraudsters to operate, so be aware of the following scams that have came to ICOD’s attention.
Fake Debt Calls
Someone may call you saying that you owe money to a company (i.e. catalogue, mail order etc) and ask for your bank details or a payment via debt/credit card. Refuse to give any details, and if you think you may owe the company money, find your last statement or check their website for the correct number to call.
Fake Delivery notices
At this time of year we are often waiting for parcels to be delivered, and sometimes receive “when you were out” cards. Most of these will be genuine, but some fraudsters distribute fake cards, giving a premium rate number to call to re-arrange delivery (taking a large amount from your phone bill). If you are in any doubt, check with the companies you have purchased things from and ask which delivery company they have used. For more information or to report a fraud contact ActionFraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit their website: www.actionfraud.org.uk (this link opens in a new window)
The Radar Key Scheme gives access to nearly 9,000 locked toilets across the UK for those that need to use them for mobility, incontinence or other reasons. ICOD are the only stockists of the keys in Inverclyde, and are available to purchase for £5 by contacting our offices.
In the Picture
ID Photographs are now needed for a number of different things, including Travel Passes and Blue Badges. ICOD can now take ID photographs for you, with 4 photographs available for £4 at our accessible offices at Clyde Square.
A BIG Thank You to our Sponsors..
We would like to thank the following businesses and organisations who have sponsored our Shopmobility scooter fleet:
Tokyo Joes, Greenock Celtic Supporters Club, Duncan MacKenzie Butchers, Therapia, Woolcraft (Gourock) and Cafe Continental.
Shopmobility Christmas Opening Hours
Shopmobility will be open 10am-4pm Monday-Friday,
Saturday 10.30am-2.30pm apart from the following days:-
Boxing Day & Tues 27th (Monday 26th & Tuesday 27th Dec) Closed,
New Years Eve (Sat 31st Dec) 10am-1pm,
New Year & Tues 3rd Jan (Monday 2nd & Tuesday 3rd Jan 2012) Closed
We often get enquiries from people looking to buy their own mobility scooter, below are ICOD’s top tips for a safe purchase.
- There are many companies now selling mobility equipment, ask if they will give you a free home demonstration before you buy.
-Ask how long the warranty is for, what it covers, and what the company will do if the equipment breaks down.
- Make sure the piece of equipment can be easily stored at your home and will get past any doors and pathways.
- If you are on the Higher Rate of Disability Living Allowance, contact the Motability team to see if you can use your benefit to pay for the equipment 0845 456 4566. They also have a list of approved dealers
- If you are buying second hand, have a test drive and make sure the scooter is working. Scooters that have not been used for a long period may need new batteries, these can cost between £100-300.
- Consider taking out insurance that will cover you if you have an accident on your scooter and injure yourself or others, ICOD can give you more information on insurance providers.
- If opting to pay for the scooter using finance (i.e. monthly payments), check how much interest is being charged, and that you can afford the payments.
-Doctor’s surgeries and some chemists may be closed for a few days, make sure you have enough medication for the festive period.
-Make sure you keep warm!
-If going away for a few days, make sure your house is secure and keep some heating on to avoid frozen pipes.
-Guard your valuables and keep them out of sight when shopping.
-Don’t drink and drive, take a taxi if you are planning to drink.
-Make sure you ask all callers at your door for identification, don’t open the door unless you are satisfied they are genuine.
If you need help, you may find the following numbers useful...
Council Emergencies - 01475 719999
Social Work - 0800 811 505
Gas Emergencies - 0800 111 999
Electricity Emergencies - 0845 2727 999
Scottish Water Emergencies - 0845 600 8855
River Clyde Homes -01475 788887
Oak Tree Housing - 0845 930 3031
Cloch Housing Association - 01475 783637
Larkfield Housing - 0800 595 595
Mental Health - Talk to Someone
Breathing Space - 0800 83 85 87
Samaritans - 08457 90 90 90
NHS 24 - 08454 24 24 24
Women’s Aid - 0800 027 1234
Childline - 0800 11 11
Greenock Police Station - 01475 492500
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