Rainbow Warrior - Updating a global view
Off on the 8 o’clock train to London last week for a conference put on by Disability Rights UK (formed from the melding of RADAR, Disability Alliance and National Centre for Inclusive Living).
Things didn’t bode well on arrival when for some reason the train sat motionless about 200 yards from King’s Cross for what seemed a very long 15 minutes or so but we finally drew in to the platform.
You never can tell with conferences.
They can be an impersonal talking shop which serves only as a platform for well known figures to pontificate but sometimes it can be a really worthwhile experience. A break in the normal routine which jolts you out of the local and into a global view.
This was a very good conference. There were speakers from all sides giving a very well rounded view of the main subject matter – the current changes to the Welfare State.
Four employees from the Department of Work and Pensions spoke to us about the new (coming in 2013 to a Jobcentre near you) Universal Benefit and Personal Independence Payment (catchily called PIP).
They were listened to politely by the delegates then received an equally polite grilling on their use of ATOS and related areas.
When asked why it was that the afore mentioned multinational received £3000 per person processed in each medical assessment but did not have to refund any of this payment if it was later discovered that they had made a mistake (ie there had been a successful appeal by the person concerned) the besuited DWP chaps found it a little difficult to supply an answer.
After all, the Government is, allegedly, trying to save money on the huge benefits bill so why not claw back some of the £500 million currently being doled out to ATOS regardless of outcome?
Surely any other business with a failure rate like theirs - (according to national figures, 40 per cent of appeals handled by the person concerned are successful; 70 per cent when there is an advocate involved) – any other business would be penalised where it hurts – in the pocket.
There were equally useful smaller workshop discussions on aspects of the new Care Bill and an excellent step by step talk from a lawyer on how to fight a Public Law case.
All this interspersed with the normal chat and networking over sandwiches and coffee.
I left shattered but satisfied with a day well spent updating my global view.
n Jonathan Toye can be contacted at West Norfolk Disability information Service (WNDiS), 14 Tuesday Market Place, King’s Lynn. Norfolk PE30 1JN or on 01553 782558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The West Norfolk Disability website is www.wndis.org.uk
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Weather for King's Lynn
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: South west