Hey gang, did you know people have been campaigning about ESA?
ESA stands for Employment and Support Allowance. It’s a type of benefit for people who find it harder to get a job because they have a disability or a problem with their health that they might have for a long time.
It used to be two separate benefits called Incapacity Benefit and Income Support, but now they are both part of ESA.
What is the campaign about?
The Spartacus Network are a group of people with disabilities who are campaigning about disability benefit. They have made a report called ‘Beyond Barriers’.
What does the report say?
It says that people have a lack of support. Did you know only 5% of people on the work programme have actually found work?
They have been accused of picking the best people for jobs and other people, including people with disabilities, are being left behind and forgotten about with little or no contact.
Another problem is that non-disabled work places are not too friendly for people with long term health conditions.
And disabled people with similar abilities and qualifications to non-disabled people are less likely to be in work. They are also paid less and more likely to live in poverty. They also face a lot of discrimination when looking for work!
I’ve had experience of that, people talk down to me, they think disabled people don’t matter, they think that they should have all the power.
I used to work in a workshop. My manager complained about my work a lot and I only got paid 50p for all of my hard work!
Did you know that in the 21st Century it is possible to do a lot more? Like flexible working and giving people more support to do their job.
Information needs to be accessible and all in one place.
We also need that accessible information in all workplaces.
We need more places like CHANGE whose business is to ensure people with learning disabilities are co-working together!
How can WE get involved in the campaign?
You can go on Twitter or Facebook and join in the campaign using #BeyondBarriers and call for a better deal for people with disabilities!
I’ve been hearing a lot about Personal Budgets, what does this mean?
Oh, I am just trying to understand that myself as everything is changing. But it’s about getting money for the care and support I need.
I’ve heard it’s supposed to give us more choice and control so we can have a better quality of life – but I only know one person with learning disabilities who has a Personal Budget.
Yes, but how is that different from Direct Payments? Are you still getting the money that you need?
Yes I am but I can decide how to use it. It’s about me being at the centre of my care. I can decide what care I want and who’s going to provide that support and care. It’s personal to each person as everyone is different.
But why is that better?
It’s better because when services are planned they ask the person that who needs them what they want. Also health care and social care professionals are going to work together better to help each person.
I think we might be able to use our Personal Budgets to get more involved in community life, which would be great, because I know lots of people with learning disabilities don’t feel included in their communities.
But how are we going to find out about Personal Budgets so that we understand what it is and know what help and support is available? I’ve never seen any easy read information about Personal Budgets.
Neither have I. We need information about Personal Budgets that has pictures and easy words. This would help us to get the right information without relying on our social worker or our support worker to get it for us. Videos would help us to understand too. Then we’d have more power!
Has it made a difference for you, Annabel?
Yes, I can choose what support I get and also change it to something else when my health changes. I have more freedom to get around because my transport fits round me rather than the timetable of the provider. This make me feel much happier because I am more independent.
We will just have to see how it works out for different people as it’s a lot of changes to services and people are a bit worried about how it’s going to work for them.
I think we will need good support to understand the changes and how they will affect us. We need Peer to Peer support and training from other people with learning disabilities to help us understand what our rights are, what Personal Budgets are, how we get them and what to do if things go wrong.
Oh, Peer to Peer and easy read information, wouldn’t that be great. I can feel the power!