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Human rights group Equal Lives fears further budget cuts next week as pressures on PIP claimants continue Protest outside the PIP Consultation Centre on Prince of Wales Road against cuts to disability benefits.
Mark Harrison, CEO for Equal Lives leading the protest. Picture: ANTONY KELLY The advocacy service has helped 38 people appeal their Personal Independence Payments (PIP) this year, and expects almost three quarters of claimants to win. Flaws in the assessment system conducted by Atos and Capita on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions have caused the UN to find evidence of "grave or systematic" violations of disabled people's human rights. On February 20, the full Norfolk County Council will discuss funding to information and advice services including Equal Lives for 2018/19. The initial recommendation was to cut it by 63,000, but Policy and Resources Committee is now asking the council to "agree to delay the saving of 63,000 until 2018/19 to give an opportunity to further understand the impact". "We are funded by Norfolk County Council to support people to get what they are actually entitled to," said Julie Kemmy, development manager at Equal Lives. "At the same time Norfolk are cutting our budgets so we are not going to be able to support as many people. "A lot of the problems inherent in [the assessment process] are because of the way they are told to run the contracts. It is an adversarial system. There is an expectation people are trying to lie about it or fiddle the system. That has fed into people's fears they won't be believed. Jade Garwood who spent 19 months appealing her PIP assessment. Picture: ANTONY KELLY "I used to be on Disability Living Allowance and I am so glad I do not have those needs any more, because this process is torture. There are so many hurdles for them and because they have to prove how bad they are they become deeply distressed." Advisor advocate Michael Shanks said: "They are not really being listened to when they try to explain a problem. Their health condition has not changed, so why suddenly are they receiving less care?" Norfolk People's Assembly, NHS Norfolk Action Group, Unison, Disabled People Against the Cuts, Equal Lives and others will be protesting outside County Hall from 8am and in the council chamber when the council meets. Jade Garwood spent 19 months battling the DWP for the PIP claim she deserved and only won on appeal to a tribunal with the help of Equal Lives. in 2013. She was unable to work more than three hours and was constantly fatigued. "I was relying on everybody else to get me through, first my friends, then my family," she said. "I had help washing, dressing and louis vuitton purses lafayette la preparing my food. "At that time I was on 70 a week. It was awful and mentally quite hard. "It wears you down and louis vuitton neverfull initials it is humiliating to constantly have to prove you are not well and need help. They do not seem to believe you at all it is almost like you are making it up. "People would not put themselves through this unless they really had a problem." Norfolk County Council response: A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: "We currently spend around 1m each day on services for vulnerable adults in Norfolk and in the budget which County Councillors discuss next Monday they will louis vuitton neverfull epi review discuss an increase the overall amount spent on this area in 2017/18. "However, as demand for services to vulnerable adults continues to rise we need to make savings so we can continue to meet the growing need for care and support for in Norfolk. We also want to strike the right balance between spending money on people's existing care needs and on services which help people to live well and independently for as long as possible. "Currently we spend 1.7m each year on providing information, advice and advocacy services which support people to maintain their independence and we do this by contracting with a wide range of specialist voluntary agencies who provide these services from a wide range of access points. "We believe we can actually help people more by streamlining the outlets where this information is provided, targeting it better in areas of most need." Sean Smith I know this is off subject, but I feel I must reply to your comments about baby boomers. After WW2 the national debt was around 250% of gdp, by the 1970s this had been reduced to around 30% mainly by the hard working low paid baby boomers. My first pay packet was 5 17s 6d (5.75p). Tax was a lot higher than today's rate. We had rationing and shortages of most things taken for granted today. Class sizes at school were over 40, often with pupils having to share desks. Diseases that have subsequently been eradicated were prevalent, such as Polio, TB and Smallpox. We had 2 years compulsory National Service. It is easy for succeeding generations to look back and think that because of the likes the swinging 60s, The Beatles and all that, that it must have been a great time. I can assure you that for the most part it was not. David your rants about Tories might make you feel better, but you might also look closer to home. Assuming you're a retired Baby Boomer, you are indeed OK. You've never known war or want your parents worked hard to rebuild the post war world, whereas the Boomers seemed to have long periods either partying (1960's) then on strike (1970's). Then during the 80's when they did finally get a job, they enjoyed surging stock markets and property prices, before retiring early on pensions too generous for their companies to afford. You've indeed led a charmed life David, but perhaps if you'd worked a bit harder, put a bit more in and taken less out, there might be some cake left for all the people you spend all day posting how much you care about. Poverty and malnutrition on the rise. Deprivation and homelessness ditto. We now have the return of illness caused by vitamin deficiency and yet the denial that this is caused by the lack of government intervention continues. I'm ok, I benefited from years and years of subsidy for my mortgage (thank you taxpayers) and final salary index linked pension. That the younger generations are stuffed, should I care? I shall be dead before generation rent is retired and housing benefit picks up the bill for the oldies that retire at 70+ and is state dependent, so should I care? I think I'll become a Tory and think only of me. Your service has not met the expectation of several others I know of. I have tried in the past discussing matters further before putting in a formal complaint but sadly phone calls are not returned and mine and others complaints dismissed. Services such as yours can be invaluable to the community but continually I have people telling me how they have been let down. I find the main concern by charities is not to bite the hand that feeds them. This isnt one case but several I know of. It would be more cost effective for NCC to supply your services in house rather than funding charities to do their work while the charities pretend to be independent. I beg to disagree with Samphire lover. I can well remember the total mess Equal lives made with my PIP claim loosing papers and lieing they had sent information when they had not. I have heard several serious complaints about them and the standard of its staff. Much of the problem stems from the fact they are funded by NCC so if asked to represent a disabled person in a complaint against NCC they head for the hills fearing loosing funding.
Vise versa if they are present at a personal budget assessment the claimant can exspect a higher award by NCC. As they are funded by NCC then their service should be available to all sadly they are well known for black listing clients who dare to complain louis vuitton neverfull gm monogram when they have made mistakes. I think funding cuts are well over due for large incompetent support charities.
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