Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Citizen's Income Trust

Malcolm Torry heads up the Citizen Income's Trust


His book arguing the case for a citizen's income is here:

http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447311256

You can also find lots of useful resources on citizen's income or basic income here:

http://www.citizensincome.org

Lots of helpful information

Monday, 3 March 2014

Comprehensive Income Tax

Here's a very nice short article making the case for various reforms including:


1. Comprehensive income - putting all income together

2. Annual income tax allowance of £100,000 per year

3. Progressive tax rate set at <90%

4. Universal Basic income

5. A land value tax

Go here for a stimulating read

http://theuxbridgegraduate.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/towards-a-truly-progressive-tax-system/

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Common Weal

A new movement in Scotland is questioning the old patterns of thought that currently trap policy-making in the UK:


"Common Weal is an old Scots phrase meaning both ‘wealth shared in common’ and ‘for the wellbeing of all’. We use it to describe a society that rejects 40 years of grasping, me-first politics, a survival-of-the-richest, winner-takes-all mentality which left us all in second place."

You can find out more about this interesting project here:

http://www.allofusfirst.com/what-is-common-weal/

Friday, 6 December 2013

ESA and WCA is a Disaster

CarerWatch and Pat’s Petition met with Kate Green, Shadow Spokesperson for Disabled People and officials at Lambeth Palace. They shared an important statement signed by different groups, including the Campaign for a Fair Society.


They proposed four simple steps for reforming ESA:

  1. Focus on making the labour market inclusive
  2. Scrap the Work Capability Assessment and the division between WRAG and SG
  3. Stop pretending fraud is a significant problem
  4. Refocus employment support on decent person-centred alternatives to the Work Programme

You can read the full letter and signatories here:

Letter on ESA Reform

Monday, 2 December 2013

Know Your Rights

Human rights should be at the heart of the welfare system. But they are not.


However we do have some rights and its important to know your rights when they are under attack.

Here's a useful website that provides useful information on your social rights:

http://www.know-your-rights.org.uk/about.html

People's Budget for Human Rights

We set budgets the wrong way round. We focus on taxes, then services and then people. Rights don't really get a chance.


This US initiative offers a different way of thinking about budget setting in the welfare system - putting people and their rights first.

You can read more here:

http://www.nesri.org/news/2013/11/budgets-must-focus-on-human-needs-and-human-rights

You can also watch this great little film:

Monday, 11 November 2013

21st Century Vision of Citizenship

In 21st Century Vision Dr Simon Duffy reviews the history of de-institutionalisation for people with learning disabilities and argues that we need to move away from jargon and start focusing on achieving real citizenship by making human rights real and practical.

Read more here:

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/21st-century-vision.html

He argues that citizenship is an achievable goal - it is not a matter of having a passport - rather it is of having lives with:
  • Purpose - we live a life of meaning
  • Freedom - we direct our own lives
  • Money - we have enough to build on without undue dependence
  • Home - we are where we belong and with people who matter 
  • Help - we get support that fits who we are and helps us achieve our goals
  • Life - we can get stuck in and contribute to our communities
  • Love - we can get love and give love, in all its forms
Dr Duffy ends by saying:
Developing a 21st century vision begins with honesty, facing the truth of our situation. But if we want to move onto developing a positive vision of the future ahead then this must be appeal to the citizen in all of us. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

European Citizen's Initiative for a Basic Income

The idea of a basic income for all citizen's is spreading. This European movement is advocating an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) as part of exploring a pathway towards emancipatory welfare conditions in the EU:

http://basicincome2013.eu

There are a whole range of different initiatives across Europe to which you can connect.

Beyond Beveridge

The Centre for Welfare Reform and the University of Birmingham collaborated in a project to imagine some of the changes in the welfare state that could be built on increasing personalisation. 

The project is described here:

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/projects/beyond-beveridge.html

Key policy papers describe:

  • How families of disabled children could direct support for their child from birth onwards
  • Why their should be a basic income system for all citizens
  • How to support local neighbourhoods and communities to bring about their own transformation
  • Why personalisation and individual budgets in healthcare is essential
  • How we could stop women going to prison unnecessarily by reconnecting justice to community


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Scotland Against the Care Tax

An important new initiative is growing in Scotland - disabled people and their allies are speaking out against the absurd and unjust Care Tax - often disguised as 'community care charging' or means-testing:

http://scotlandagainstthecaretax.org

This campaign has the full support of the Campaign for a Fair Society and demonstrates the power of people coming together to fight injustice.

Local Area Coordination

One useful approach for promoting greater community inclusion is Local Area Coordination. This innovation was developed in Western Australia as an alternative to segregated and institutional services for families and disabled people.

You can find out more by reading this report, published by The Centre for Welfare Reform:

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/type/pdfs/local-area-coordination.html

The Scottish Consortium for People with Learning Disabilities leads development work on Local Area Coordination in Scotland; while Ralph Broad of Inclusive Neighbourhoods leads development work in England.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Myth of Independence

This blog - The Myth of Independence - by Liveable4All summarises some of the argument's for a basic income and pulls together some of the main supporters of the idea:

http://www.livableincome.org/adependence.htm

It offers some amusing perspectives on the nonsense that underpins current thinking:
Independence is a myth. Questioning it is a taboo. For fun find a BigSuitBigPower person and ask "Who gave birth to you?" , "Who changed your diaper?"
If the most important work in the world - bring up your children - is unpaid - why do we treat employment as if it were the only thing that mattered.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Is It Right to Buy a Right?

Leading disability campaigner, Jim Elder-Woodward, Chair of the UK Steering Group of the Campaign for a Fair Society, has published a short essay questioning the fairness of means-testing in social care and elsewhere in the welfare system:

Is It Right to Buy a Right?

Jim asks how it can be just that disabled people must pay double taxation - once, like everyone else, then again in order to get access to their entitlement to social care. He muses on whether this could be one of the defining issues for the future
But this feeling of social injustice is not shared by others who do not directly experience it; and whether it’s the price of tea, the poll tax, or the cost of petrol, we know there’s nothing more emotive than a widely held acknowledgement of unfair taxation to raise the hackles of a disgruntled general populace and stir up direct action. Indeed, one wonders if this issue could manage to re-ignite the fires of direct action which we haven’t seen since the DAN protests of the last century

Making ESA Fit for Purpose

Leading disability campaigners Pat's Petition have set out their view on the future of ESA:

Making ESA Fit for Purpose

They argue that recent 'reforms' have mistakenly tried to push people into work, whilst ignoring the basic reality of the labour market and the deep structural imbalance which will continue to leave disabled people with poor access to employment opportunities.

Ideas to Reform ESA

Dr Simon Duffy published two connected articles on possible ways to reform the Employment and Support Allowance System (ESA):

Thoughts on ESA

How to Reform the ESA System

He argues that any reformed system should include the following elements:
  1. Close down the DWP - There is no need for a Department of Work & Pensions. Benefits and taxes should be integrated (in fact this is implicit in Universal Credit) so the function of giving people money and taking money away from people should be left to HMRC. Moreover Whitehall is incapable of creating work in local communities; instead it only seems to give work to companies that take profits out of our communities. Its only role is to treat some people as second class citizens; it is a department whose time is over.
  2. End Newspeak - The current terminology is deceitful and only serves to keep us confused about what a decent system can and cannot do. We need Basic Incomes - not Job Seekers Allowances or Employment and Support Allowances etc.
  3. Focus on Basic Income Guarantee - In the long-run it is the basic income level that is the most important foundation of any decent system. Currently this has been slashed and the changes to indexation mean that it (and other benefits) will now decline in value over time. Disabled people should be lobbying for the most universal system possible with the best possible foundations.
  4. Justify supplements - There is probably an argument for both ensuring a universal income guarantee and for helping people who become sick or disabled at any time with a slightly higher income which could be justified: (a) because they have fallen from a higher income because of sickness or (b) will always find it harder to earn at the same level as others. Insurance models already operate for the better-off on this basis and a nationalised system of insurance supplements may be useful. However it is important this is defined a justifiable supplement to the basic income system - not a different system.
  5. Welcome innovation - There is a strong track record of helping disabled people find work in places like North Lanarkshire Council where they have embraced positive and intentional approaches that treat disabled people as valuable people, with skills and assets and seek to build creative partnerships with local employers. Experts in these approaches should be included in any wider alliance for change.
  6. Support the local - For too long we have demanded that central government solve problems that can only really be tackled at the local level. Over time this has left the local level powerless to make changes, lead innovation or show what is really possible. Seeking an overly-centralised solution for work and employment is ultimately disastrous as the only solutions on offer will be bureaucratic, low-trust, insensitive and disempowering.

A Fair Start

The Centre for Welfare Reform and the University of Birmingham have published Dr Pippa Murray's Policy Paper - A Fair Start - a policy paper that sets out how support for children with disabilities and their families should be organised.

The paper is available to download here:

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/a-fair-start.html

Families currently access support from a wide range of services including the NHS, social care, education and the tax and benefit system. The report argues that this array of systems means that most families are confused about what they are entitled to and professionals struggle to provide accurate and timely information about current services.

The author, Dr Pippa Murray, suggests that government departments need to work with communities and families to develop an integrated pathway for the care, support and education of disabled children. This Personalised Pathway will give families more autonomy in deciding the best care for their child and will also offer a more cost-effective method of providing social care to those who need it most.

A Fair Income

The Centre for Welfare Reform has published A Fair Income, an argument for a basic income for all. It is argued that such reforms would be fair, rational, economically sustainable, and would better reflect the changing nature of modern society.

The publication can be downloaded here:

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/a-fair-income.html

The paper was published as part of a series of policy papers developed jointly with the University of Birmingham. In outline the paper argues for the following reforms:
  1. Integration of the current tax and benefits into one coherent system 
  2. A consistent approach for benefits and taxation, more supportive of families, in all their forms
  3. The simplification of tax-benefit calculations into one set of questions
  4. A minimum income for all, delivered through a universal, non-means-tested, benefit
  5. Fair rates of taxation that remove the extreme disincentives for the poorest
  6. A constitutional right to a minimum guaranteed income and to fair taxes 
  7. A public committee to shape the core entitlements, open to submission and scrutiny

Friday, 25 October 2013

Sustainability - An Overview

Summary

The banking and finance systems have not worked in favour of the whole of society. A new system must change how banks and financial institutions work. They must offer value and benefit to everyone and bear responsibility for the common good. We need a system based on fairness – one that is sustainable and affordable for everyone.

Fair Taxes - An Overview

Summary

The tax system falls hardest on people who need social care. Complicated rules hide this fact. Local authorities and the Independent Living Fund charge for services and, often, you can’t get help if you have modest savings. The benefit system also disguises a series of unfair taxes. We need a fair system that doesn’t have hidden taxes that fall on older and disabled people and people in poverty. Services must be free to people who use them. Taxes would fund these services – paid for by everyone equitably.

Fair Incomes - An Overview

Summary

People who are entitled to benefits can be trapped in poverty. It can be difficult to break out and get a job or get involved in the community – especially if you are disabled. We need a new system that gives everyone a reasonable income. We need a system that makes it worth getting a job, saving money and getting involved in community life.

Details

We call on the government to establish a reasonable minimum income for all citizens and to ensure there are no damaging poverty traps. People who need benefits in order to live or meet the extra costs of disability often find themselves trapped in poverty. People need a reasonable income with a positive incentive to work, save and contribute to community life.

Choice & Control - An Overview

Summary

Often, people can only get help if they give up their independence. We need a new system that helps people to keep control – to make their own choices and control their own life.

Equal Access - An Overview

Summary

Services for older and disabled people are often not the ones everyone else uses. Separate and institutional services cut people off from ordinary life, friends and neighbours. We want all people to have the same opportunities – in housing, work, education, leisure and relationships. Then people will be part of their community. They will get the chance to put something in as well as get support.

Early Support - An Overview

Summary

If we need help from services we often can’t get it until we reach crisis point. This is a bad way of spending money. It causes problems like family breakdown and health crises.

People must get help as soon as possible. It is a better use of money because people can deal with problems when they are smaller. People can be more independent. Families are more likely to stay together. More people can get help for the same money.

Entitlements - An Overview

Summary

It is difficult to know what money, care and support we can get because the system is confusing.

We need a new system with clear entitlements. It must be easy for people to know what money, care and support they can get. They must have enough money to live on and be active citizens.

Human Rights - An Overview

Summary

A fair society is built on a foundation of human rights. The law and welfare systems should be judged by their success in upholding these rights. There are already important agreements about welfare – The European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. 

These international standards for decency should be built into our own law. The current Human Rights Act should be strengthened, not weakened, and it should become easier for citizens to hold the system to account.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Realising Disability Rights

Tabitha Collingbourne has just completed her PhD on Realising Disability Rights. The thesis is a critical political discourse analysis of implementation in England of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, focusing on the socio-economic rights set out under Article 19, the right to live independently and be included in the community.

The thesis is available here:

http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/3904/

Independent living policy, legislation, administrative decision-making and redress systems in England are assessed against the requirements of Article 19, in the context of successive UK governments’ resistance to incorporation of international economic, social and cultural rights standards, and the consequent invisibility of those rights in domestic legal and political discourse.

The thesis concludes that the lack of domestic economic, social and cultural rights framework goes to the heart of CRPD implementation, contributing to mis- or partial application of Article 19 and so undermining realisation here of all Convention rights.