Staffordshire Disability Action Group
Why do we need this collective voice?
At this point in time so much is supposed to be happening around the county of Staffordshire but what does it actually deliver for you as an individual? Where is the evidence that it is making a difference?
We are really concerned that the services we desperately need and expect are being eroded by the authorities without any transparency over consultation.
If you have had experience of good practice/service within Staffordshire, please share those experiences - we want to know that Staffordshire is doing right and celebrate that success.
However, a perfect example of why parents and carers must act as a unified group is the decimation of the Portage Service by Staffordshire County Council. Prior to January 2013, The Portage Service was, for over thirty years, a small and highly trained group of professional staff operating out of four sites across Staffordshire. They provided a pre-school home visiting and continous assessment service to some of the most poorly and vulnerable children in the county. They also had a first class working relationship with other fellow professionals.
Since January 2013, Staffordshire County Council have discontinued Portage and replaced it with a generic service delivered by the new Child & Family Engagement Workers based in Local Support Teams. Some of these new staff have not received any training in Special Educational Needs (SEN). Would you be content to have these untrained staff visiting your child with complex needs? We do not believe that you would and we do not believe it is right. A large proportion of the previous Portage Team have also left their jobs because they felt that what was happening was wrong.
These changes were driven through by Staffordshire County Council despite significant representation and objection from parents, carers, professional health workers, doctors, and the existing portage staff themselves. Staffordshire simply did not listen and now the service is a shadow of its former professional standing. Tell us about your experiences of portage, we would love to hear them.
Also, we now have the introduction of the new commissioning service called 'Independent Futures'. What will that actually deliver in real terms? We want to see tangible results on the ground and we want to hear from you what you think of the changes.
We also need to keep the pressure on both Staffordshire County Council and local housing providers to deliver sustainable long term housing and accomodation solutions. There are too few at present and they are not being delivered quickly enough.
Whatever happened to the Fazeley project in Tamworth which was going to be opened two years ago? Alas, It is currently standing half built and without any indication of when, or even if, it will ever be completed. This was going to be a showpiece development with accomodation for twelve young people including an assessement unit. Does anyone know what the plans are to actually make this happen? if you do then please let us know.
Where will all of the people with learning and physical disabilities live in the future? We want to see the evidence of long term planning and some results now.
How sad to hear that the Linkage Trust have ten empty bedrooms in their excellent four house supported living complex at Wetmore Road in Burton Upon Trent whilst there is a waiting list for accomodation.
These are just a few of the many issues currently arising in Staffordshire and we know there are many more. We want you to tell us about them. Lets stick together as parents, carers, and service users, and lets demand some progress beyond the publishing of a new strategy every two or three years.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Staffordshire County Council are proposing to vote on 15 January 2014 for what effectively means the closure of Day services across the county. Can we urge all parents and carers to visit www.dayserviceaction.com and to complete the on-line petition to try and save these vital and valued services.
Changes to disability benefits have started in England, Wales and Scotland. 10/6/13
Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) are replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) as part of larger welfare reforms.
The government says the new system will provide for the people who need help but charities say that 600,000 people could lose their benefits.
The disability benefits bill is expected to rise from £12.6bn in 2009/10, to £13.8bn in 2015/16.
"Disabled people believe this reform is an excuse to save money," said Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope.
The minister for disability, Esther McVeigh said the new scheme was "about targeting billions of pounds a year at the people who need it most".
Source - BBC News
Disability living allowance replaced, from 8 April
A new benefit called the personal independence payment (PIP) will be introduced from April 2013 for people of working age to replace disability living allowance (DLA).
DLA is the biggest disability benefit payment. In nine years, the numbers claiming the benefit have risen from just under 2.5 million to 3.2 million - an increase of about a third.
The changes are expected to reduce spending by about £2.2bn by 2015-16, with one fifth of current DLA claimants expected to be ineligible for PIP.
By 2015, some 170,000 people are expected to be ineligible, while 150,000 will get a higher award, according to the DWP. By 2018, 500,000 will be ineligible, while 780,000 will receive the same or more than they do currently.
The government argues PIP will be more efficient and easier to understand than DLA. However, disability groups have condemned the plans as a money-saving exercise, arguing DLA is one of the most effectively targeted benefits with an estimated fraud rate of just 0.5%.
The change to PIP will be rolled out geographically over time. From 8 April, people living in Merseyside, Cumbria, Cheshire and North East England will begin claiming for PIP.
From 10 June, all new claims for disability benefits will be for PIP and not DLA.
For more information, read the government's guide.
Source - BBC News