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Blind Man Tasered As White Stick Mistaken For Gun

February 24, 2017

A blind man was Tasered by police after they mistook his cane for a gun.

Armed response officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) were called to Albert Road in Levenshulme at about 18:40 GMT on Thursday after reports there was a man with a gun.

They say a Taser was deployed and a 43-year-old man was detained.

It was later discovered the man was actually carrying a folding cane and he was released as he posed no threat.

The incident has been referred to the GMP’s Professional Standards Branch.

Supt Steve Howard said: “Officers responded quickly to the incident to ensure the safety of the community of Levenshulme.

“It has been established that there was no threat and enquiries are ongoing to fully understand the circumstances of the incident.”

In 2012, a blind man was Tasered in Chorley, Lancashire, after his white stick was mistaken for a Samurai sword.

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Advice From Fightback On The PIP Changes

February 24, 2017

Sue Jones On Changes To PIP

February 24, 2017

New PIP Descriptors For ‘Planning And Following Journeys’ From 16 March Will Exclude MH Claimants

February 24, 2017

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

 

Following a court victory by claimants just last month, the government is rushing in an urgent change to the law to prevent many people with mental health conditions being awarded the mobility component of personal independence payment (PIP).

The change reverses the recent ruling by a panel of three judges and means that people with mental health conditions such as severe anxiety who can go outdoors, even if they need to have someone with them, are much less likely to get an award of even the standard rate of the PIP mobility component.

Panel of upper tribunal judges
As we explained just a few weeks ago, for years we’ve been advising members that DWP guidance about ‘Planning and following a journey’ was wrong and was leading to incorrect assessments by health professionals and errors of law by decision makers.

The disagreement over interpretation was finally decided by a panel of three upper tribunal judges last month

The DWP continued to argue that anyone with a mental health condition who was ever able to go outdoors, even with someone with them, should score only 4 points and receive no award at all on that basis.

But the tribunal held that claimants with conditions such as severe anxiety can qualify even for the enhanced rate of the mobility component, just on the basis of problems with ‘Planning and following a journey’, or ‘Going out’ as the PIP form terms it.

New regulations
Rather than try to fight the case any further, the government have resorted to a change in the regulations, which doesn’t require any kind of debate or vote in parliament.

From 16 March the law will be changed so that the words “For reasons other than psychological distress” will be added to the start of descriptors c, d and f in relation to “Planning and following journeys”.

Current descriptors
The descriptors currently read:

a. Can plan and follow the route of a journey unaided. 0 points.

b. Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 4 points.

c. Cannot plan the route of a journey. 8 points.

d. Cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. 10 points.

e. Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 10 points.

f. Cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid. 12 points.

New descriptors
The new descriptors will read (changes in bold by us):

a. Can plan and follow the route of a journey unaided. 0 points.

b. Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 4 points.

c. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot plan the route of a journey. 8 points.

d. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. 10 points.

e. Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 10 points.

f. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid. 12 points.

The effect will be that people who are too anxious to ever undertake journeys unless they have someone with them, for example because they have panic attacks or similar, will be unlikely to be awarded more than 4 points by the DWP. This means they will not be able to get an award of the mobility component on the basis of this activity alone.

Even claimants who are too anxious to ever go on journeys, even if they have someone with them, will only score 10 points and thus not be eligible for the enhanced rate of the mobility component on the basis of this activity alone.

Ruthless
The new regulations also make changes to the way that descriptors relating to taking medication are interpreted, again in response to a ruling by judges in favour of claimants.

The new regulations are being rushed in without the Social Security Advisory Committee even being given a chance to comment on them.

Penny Mordaunt, the minister for disabled people, claimed in a statement today that

“Two recent Upper Tribunal judgments have broadened the way the PIP assessment criteria should be interpreted, going beyond the original intention. In order to make sure the initial purpose of PIP is maintained, we are making drafting amendments to the criteria which provide greater clarity. This will not result in any claimants seeing a reduction in the amount of PIP previously awarded by DWP. . . If not urgently addressed, the operational complexities could undermine the consistency of assessments, leading to confusion for all those using the legislation, including claimants, assessors, and the courts. It is because of the urgency caused by these challenges, and the implications on public expenditure, that proposals for these amendments have not been referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee before making the regulations.”

In reality, the new regulations are a ruthless response to fair and reasonable judgements and their only purpose is to cut the cost of disability benefits, regardless of the effect on the lives of individuals.

The new regulations will not apply to decisions made before 16 March. However, it is possible that decision makers will delay making decisions on claims likely to be covered by the new regulations until after that date.

We will be updating our PIP guide before the new regulations come into force.

You can download a copy of Penny Mordaunt’s statement here.

You can download a copy of the new regulations here.

Changes To PIP Regulations

February 23, 2017

The government spends around £50 billion a year to support people with disabilities and health conditions.

Part of that support comes through Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This was introduced to replace the outdated Disability Living Allowance and helps with the extra costs that can often come with being disabled, such as added transport costs or assistance with cooking.

The PIP assessment is designed to focus more support on those who are likely to have a higher level of need, and higher costs associated with their disability. For example, claimants who require therapy at home, like dialysis or oxygen, are likely to need more support than someone who needs help to take medication. Similarly, people who cannot carry out a journey because of a visual or cognitive impairment are likely to need more support than someone who experiences psychological distress when they undertake a journey, for example as a result of social phobia or anxiety.

Recent legal judgments have interpreted the assessment criteria for PIP in ways that are different to what was originally intended. The government is now making amendments to clarify the criteria, to restore the original aim of the policy and ensure support goes to those most in need.

This is not a policy change and will not result in any claimants seeing a reduction in the amount of PIP previously awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The purpose is to restore the original intention of the benefit which has been expanded by the legal judgments.

Spending on disability benefits has risen by more than £3 billion in real terms since 2010, and will remain higher in each year to 2020, than in 2010. Failing to reinstate the original intention of the policy would have led to substantial unplanned increases to public expenditure totalling £3.7 billion (between 2016 to 2017 and 2021 to 2022).

Australian Doctor With Autistic Child Facing Deportation

February 23, 2017

This case has made us very sad. Sadly, it is not the first case of it’s kind we’ve covered on Same Difference.

 

The immigration department’s decision to refuse a visa to a Sydney doctor because her daughter is autistic has been condemned by the medical fraternity as “disgusting” and “reprehensible”.

Dr Nasrin Haque – who has lived with her children in Australia for eight years and whose sister, brother, and parents are all Australian citizens – has been given until Friday to present to the immigration department with plane tickets to prove she and her daughter are leaving the country.

If she fails to do so, she faces deportation.

The New South Wales president of the Australian Medical Association, Prof Brad Frankum, said the government’s actions were “reprehensible”. The chief executive of Autism Awareness Australia, Nicole Rogerson, said the family’s treatment carried a “disgusting undertone”.

Haque, originally from Bangladesh and who has lived previously in Hungary, practises as a GP in Windsor and Pitt Town, in Sydney’s west. She is the primary carer for her 15-year-old daughter Sumaya.

Haque’s application for permanent residency in Australia was rejected because Sumaya’s medical condition – described as a “mild to moderate” developmental delay – was viewed as a burden on Australia.

The administrative appeals tribunal acknowledged Haque was a “valuable asset” to her community, but said Sumaya’s condition meant she failed the visa health requirement and would be too great an impost on the Australian taxpayer.

The government’s so-called ‘one-fails, all-fail’ visa criteria for family applications means Haque and her daughter, as well as Haque’s 14-year-old son Sakir Bhuiyan, face deportation to Hungary, a country the teenagers left as children and whose language they don’t speak.

Only the immigration minister Peter Dutton, or his assistant minister Alex Hawke, have the power to halt the family’s removal from Australia. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection wrote to the family in January saying Hawke had “personally considered your case and decided it would not be in the public interest to intervene”.

The powers vested in the minister and his assistant are “non-compellable” – meaning they cannot be forced to make a decision – and “non-delegable” – meaning the decision cannot be assigned elsewhere, to a public servant or another decision-making body. The department has said previously the powers are used only rarely, and only in “unique and exceptional circumstances”.

A department spokesman said assistant immigration minister, Alex Hawke, would only intervene if he thought it was “in the public interest to do so”.

“The minister cannot be compelled to exercise his powers and he is not required to explain his decisions on any case,” the spokesman said in a statement.

“The minister only intervenes in a relatively small number of cases which present unique and exceptional circumstances.”

In a change.org petition to Dutton, Haque pleaded with the minister to reconsider her case, saying it would devastate her family. She said her daughter was not a burden on the Australian taxpayer.

“Although she does attend a special school, she has not received any other support from the state during her eight years in Australia. Sumaya is an independent young girl with strong computer skills and manages all activities of daily living on her own. My full-time position as a GP allows me to financially support my family without assistance from the Australian state.”

Haque said she had extensive family support in Australia, and that her children had close relationships with their aunts, uncles, and grandparents, all Australian citizens.

“If we are deported back to Hungary, we will not be able to function. Deportation would tear our family apart, and destroy my childrens’ chances of completing their education and becoming productive members of society.”

Frankum said Haque’s children had spent more than half of their lives in Australia, but had now been ordered to leave.

“The fact that an Australian resident of eight years, whose parents and siblings live here, can be faced with deportation due to illness is reprehensible.”

Frankum said the decision to refuse Sumaya’s visa, separating her from her extended family, because of her medical condition, was one of “immense callousness”.

“It’s adding insult to injury that the assistant immigration minister, Alex Hawke, has already dismissed Dr Haque’s bid to remain in Australia as not being in the public interest. I would suggest her patients would argue with that.

“I would further suggest that Dr Haque being able to stay and offer continuity of care to her community is of immense public interest,” Frankum said.

Rogerson said the family’s treatment suggested those with a disability were simply a burden, with nothing to contribute to the community. She said the policy raised serious questions about how the government viewed disability.”

“From our point of view, it’s just so disgusting, the undertone in this message. The message is you are a skilled migrant, you are a doctor … but the minute you’ve got disability in your family, whoopsie, you’re out,” Rogerson said.

“By merely deporting her family because she has a disability, think about what that does to her family, think about what it does to people’s view of disability.”

Rogerson described the policy as heartless, harsh, and unfair.

DWP To Set Up ‘Service User Panels’ To Monitor Problems With Applying For ESA And PIP

February 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

  • Unfortunately, I have to tell my hon. Friend that I am still receiving complaints from constituents about the procedures regarding personal independence payments, so what is she doing to improve the process, reduce delays and support people through what is often a traumatic assessment process?

     
     
  • The goal is clearly swift, accurate and admin-lite assessments. Good progress has already been made in many areas—for example, reducing the average time it takes for a claim from point of registration to decision by more than three quarters from over 40 weeks to 10 weeks as of October last year—but there is more to do. One reason we have set up the service user panels is that it is incredibly important to be aware that, while things may be generally going well, there are certain hotspot areas where they are not, and identifying those in real time is critical—but there are many other things in the PIP improvement plan as well.

    The above is taken from Hansard, 20th February.