Aug 102015
 

I’ve written a Guide for Disabled People to Sue Service Providers for Disability Discrimination, as Unrepresented Litigants in Person in England. (Otherwise known as DART – the Disability Attitude Readjustment Tool.) Suing isn’t as difficult or risky as it might sound. Given that only the person discriminated against can take action, and legal aid is effectively non-existent, this is now pretty much the only way to enforce one’s legal rights; though Unity Law are a great exception.

This accompanying post provides extra resources to go with the guide. NB: many of the examples have been anonymised due to non-disclosure agreements. Don’t be over-awed – suing is actually a simple process and you will probably never need most of the following. (There’s a lot here because I want to give many examples and cover many circumstances, much of which you won’t use.)

The guide (current version 1.1, August 2015)

Download DART – the Disability Attitude Re-adjustment Tool – .doc Format

Download DART – the Disability Attitude Re-adjustment Tool – .pdf Format

Download DART – the Disability Attitude Re-adjustment Tool – Audiobook .mp3 format (in a .zip file)

Printed copies

Print

I don’t get any money from the above third party printing service. They do seem to do a good job though.

Creative Commons Licence DART – the Disability Attitude Re-adjustment Tool by Doug Paulley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Links:

  1. The Stammering Law website. Gives excellent and comprehensive information about disability discrimination and the Equality Act. (Goes well beyond “just” stammering.) Written by an ex-lawyer. I thoroughly recommend this site. It goes into detail on some of the issues I gloss over or don’t even mention in my guide, due to my wish to keep the guide as undaunting and as usable as possible, so if you aren’t clear on something, check this website.
  2. Statutory Equality Act Code of Practice on Services, Public Functions and Associations – useful guidance and examples about what service providers have to do under the Act.
  3. HM Court Service FormFinder – for anything not listed below (all PDF):
    1. Claim Form (N1),
    2. Fee Exemption (EX160A),
    3. Current Court Fees (EX50).
    4. Directions questionnaire – Small Claims Track (N180).
    5. Directions questionnaire – Fast Track and Multi Track (N181)
    6. Notice of Discontinuance (N279)
    7. Application Notice (N244) and assocated Guidance
    8. Notice of Offer to Settle (N242A)
  4. Court finder – gives address, accessibility, other contact details for the court service. You want a County Court.
  5. A Guide to Bringing and Defending a Small Claim (PDF) – Civil Justice Council. Gives more detail on the process, including costs.
  6. The Civil Procedure Rules and Directions -instructions for court procedures.
    1. Practice Direction – Pre-action Conduct – what you should do before starting your case
    2. Practice Direction 18 – Requesting Further Information
    3. Practice Direction 27 Appendix B – Standard Directions  – if you’re asked for them and choose not to use my template below
    4. Practice Direction 36A – Offers to Settle
  7. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s useful Guide to the Small Claims Track
  8. The Small Claims Mediation Service
  9. Other Mediators
  10. The Equality Act 2010. You generally don’t need to read this!
  11. Unity Law. Excellent campaigning solicitors that take on many disability discrimination cases “no win no fee” or “pro bono” (free!) – great if you don’t feel confident enough to represent yourself using my guide.They also offer some good resources (though you may have to register and give your email address to get them – a bone of contention of mine…)
    1. Disability discrimination: A guide to writing a complaint (PDF) – great guidance on writing a Letter before Action
    2. Letter of complaint template: difficulty accessing the high street (PDF) – says it’s a .doc but isn’t.
    3. Letter of complaint: difficulty accessing education (higher education) (PDF) – (again not a .doc)
    4. Letter of complaint: difficulty accessing public transport (PDF) – (again not a .doc)
  12. Law Centres – best way of getting affordable representation.
  13. An incomplete list of my cases and how they finished up… (Google sheets)
  14. The House of Lords Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability’s Call for Evidence into the provisions and implementation of the Equality Act 2010 in relation to how it serves disabled people. Deadline 4th September 2015.
  15. Crippen / Dave Lupton Cartoons – who did the excellent cartoons I have borrowed for the guide.

Downloadable Documents:

  1. The Disability Rights Commission‘s “How to Sue” booklet (PDF). This is out of date, but very useful. Replace “Disability Discrimination Act / DDA 1995” with “Equality Act 2010“, and remember that the Small Claims Track now goes up to £10,000 instead of £5,000, that there’s now no allocation fee but there is a hearing fee, even in small claims cases, and it’s pretty spot on.
  2. Example Letters before Action: (doc)
    1. Tesco (disabled toilet locked out of use) (includes Subject Access Request)
    2. Pub (locked wheelchair accessible door) 
    3. Counsellor (canceled session when realised no wheelchair access to their premises)
    4. Bus firm (refused to operate ramp)
    5. Train (broken disabled toilet) (includes subject access request)
    6. Court service (general failures)
    7. Pub (perennially broken disabled toilet)
    8. Court (thought chairlift was wheelchair access)
    9. Underground train (failure to keep access info up to date)
    10. Snooker club (broken lift)
  3. Example completed Claim Forms (N1) (PDFs)
    1. Counselling company:
      1. Before printing, signing and scribbling
      2. Final version
    2. Tesco Claim Form
  4. Example Particulars of Claim (.doc)
    1. Counselling Service Particulars of Claim
    2. Pub Particulars of Claim
    3. Court Service Particulars of Claim
    4. Housing Association Particulars
    5. Underground Train Particulars of Claim
    6. Service Station Particulars of Claim
    7. Firstbus Particulars of Claim
  5. Example Exemption Claim for issuing (EX160A)
  6. Example Allocation and Directions Questionnaires:
    1. Directions Questionnaire N180
    2. Example Directions Questionnaire N181
  7. Draft Directions Template – download and customise to your needs
  8. Draft Witness Statement templates:
    1. Your witness statement (claimant) template
    2. Other Witness Statements template
  9. Example Tomlin orders (open agreements) (PDFs):
    1. Housing association (inaccessible gate)
    2. Theatre (charged for carer’s ticket)
  10. Example Notice of Discontinuance (N279) (PDFs):
    1. Example N279 Notice of Discontinuance (before scribbling)
    2. Finalised N279 Notice of Discontinuance
  11. Example Application to Strike Out Defence (N244) (PDFs):
    1. Application to Strike Out Defence (N244) before scribbling
    2. Signed Application to Strike Out Defence
  12. Example Part 18 Request and Refusal (.doc):
    1. Example Part 18 Request
    2. Example Part 18 Refusal
  13. Example Part 36 Offers to Settle:
    1. Example Part 36 Offer by Email (.doc)
    2. Example Part 36 Offer by Form N242A (PDF)
  14. Example Judgment (may all yours be like this!) (PDF)
    1. Judgment for the Claimant

With thanks to the many people who enabled this to happen – including proof readers Max, Mike, Mum and Dad

Aug 282015
 

Our responsible citizen, Luke Gutteridge, was walking somewhere in Broxbourne council’s jurisdiction one day when he accidentally dropped a 10p sized piece of orange peel without noticing. A council enforcement officer spotted him and pointed out he’d dropped it. Mr Gutteridge immediately apologised and picked it up. That’s where this story would have stopped, but it didn’t.

The enforcement officer issued a £75 fine for littering. Mr Gutteridge refused to accept the fine (understandably) and challenged it through the Magistrate’s Court. He was successful: the Council lost because the Magistrates considered that whilst he may have dropped a piece of litter, he hadn’t abandoned it.

The question is how much the authority’s farcical behaviour cost the taxpayer in this time of strict austerity. I put in a Freedom of Information Request to find out precisely that.

The Council initially told me that there were no costs because it was all done by their in-house legal team. I requested an internal review, because I know that all legal teams quantify their costs to claim off the other side if they win the case. The Council then told me that it had cost them £1,700 in lawyers time and £100 for the enforcement officer to attend Court.

I thought I’d bottomed the costs, but an article in the local paper, the Hertfordshire Mercury, has revealed that even that figure is incorrect. “It has now emerged the case cost taxpayers £2,057.” The Mercury quotes the Council’s response to my FOI request, leaving the reader with the very legitimate question as to why the Council gave me a lower figure.

Even this is lower than the actual cost, mind you, because as Mr Gutteridge won his case, the Council will be liable for his legal costs too.

One hopes that when the Auditor comes to examine the Council’s accounts, that the Council are somewhat more straightforward and honest than they appear to have been when complying with their legal obligation to provide accurate information in response to my FOI request.

Aug 232015
 

Clare Pelham had this to say in Leonard Cheshire’s annual accounts 2014-2015:

Disabled people are more likely to be living in poverty and less likely to have savings than most. The pressures on social care funding available to councils in this country have increased and this has affected many disabled people.

She ought to know about poverty; after all, she’s only paid between £140,000 and £150,000 per year. She is one of 25 staff earning more than £60,000 – none of whom are directly engaged in the core activity of providing personal care and support to disabled people. Indeed, the number of staff in the charity earning £100,000 or more actually increased this year. To put that in context, MPs’ salaries are £67,060.

The report also lists the following risk and mitigation: (my emphasis)

Rising wages costs and our ambition to pay all staff at least the Living Wage could impact the financial sustainability of some or all of the Charity’s operations
  1. Annual increases in our fees requested from commissioners to offset the cost of wage increases and to support our efforts to work towards paying the Living Wage.
  2. Annual budget and business planning cycle.

 

This is perhaps progress, because even though Clare Pelham had this to say in September last year:

At the very least we should celebrate care as a wonderful career choice with great training; and nothing less than a living-wage should be acceptable.

the charity continues to pay its carers less than the living wage. They claim it’s because commissioners don’t pay them enough:

Commissioners are working under increasing financial pressure, so in many cases achieving living wage rates is not possible immediately

Yet until I kicked off about this in January, they’d not asked any commissioners to pay more so they could pay carers the living wage – and even now they’ve only recently written to a small proportion of commissioners to start the conversation. (At least I’ve forced them to go through the motions.)

In fact, the company reduced their spending on staff wages by over £2,000,000 in financial year 2014-2015 compared to 2013-2014, despite receiving an increased income of over £1,000,000 from fees paid by councils, part of their £7,500,000 overall increase in income. (£6,000,000 of the increased income is sat in their bank accounts – Goodness knows where the rest is.)  Check their annual reports and accounts (PDF file) – hold your nose to get past the odious self-congratulatory bollocks in the first half of the report; their figures for income are on p64, staff costs on p91, and the salaries of their most senior employees on p92.

One wonders if the reflection in their annual report may indeed by correct. It’s my view that they don’t give a stuff about their low wages to carers; they are only interested in appearing to give a stuff about their carers’ pay, and they don’t view the living wage as something to aspire to but as a threat to their business model.

Aug 172015
 

There’s a paucity of guidance on what mechanisms organisations must offer when charging the £10.00 SAR fee. It bugs me when an organisation accepts payments for other services via card payments and/or bank transfer, but insist on cheques for subject access requests.

The only related guidance I can find is the ICO’s DPA LTT on payment mechanisms for SAR fees, which says that an organisation must act as if the fee has been paid if it’s been sent in a commonly acceptable form, so for example if the organisation tries to insist on payment by card but the requester posts a cheque, they must still process the SAR even if they don’t cash the cheque. The difference is that receiving the cheque doesn’t require any co-operation from the organisation, it’s essentially passive. To pay the fee by card the organisation would have to operate their card machine etc.

So I’ve sent the ICO the following email, but if anybody happens to know of other guidance please do let me know!

Please can you tell me what payment methods an organisation should offer for payment of the £10 SAR fee?

Please can you provide any guidance on this subject? I can only find this DPA LTT which addresses a subtly different question.

In specific, can an organisation insist on SAR fees being paid by cheque, even if they accept payment by card and bank transfer for other elements of their business? I hate cheques; they can go missing in the post, they take time to clear, it’s a pain for me to get to the pillar box in my wheelchair, and they’re very out of date. Is there best practice or statutory or other guidance that says that a company must accept payment by other mechanisms where these are already in use in other areas of their business?

Could I just transfer £10.00 into their account via bank transfer and present them with a printout proving I’ve done this as a fait accompli?

Jul 302015
 

Laurence Clark reckons that wheelchair users travel 4th class on Britain’s railways, somewhere below the catering trolley. I think I experienced this today.

I was traveling from York to London by Grand Central. I generally rate Grand Central, an open access operator providing a niche York to London non-stop service, also providing the Mackems with a link to civilisation in London :-) (actually, I suspect it may be the other way round!) Even if they have been bought by soul sapping über-giant Arriva.

Today was different, though. I dutifully bought my tickets and booked wheelchair space and assistance with them 48 hours in advance, as we are sadly forced to do, and duly turned up the requisite 30 minutes early to allow general pfaf time.

An excellent, solicitous young gentleman from VTEC set up the ramp onto the train a few minutes before it was due to board, but I discovered he’d set it up at the wrong door – which was not his fault because Grand Central had neglected to employ the RVAR mandated and widely used space hopper sign indicating the correct door for the wheelchair space.

image

Never mind, it’s a few minutes early, so still time to discover that there was a pushchair with baby and two suitcases in the wheelchair space. On I get, and it’s left to me to shout to get them moved – even though there was a sign stating the space was for a wheelchair, and even though I’d booked the space. The mother was noticeably sniffy and unpleasant at having to move.

Of course, I couldn’t even get to the wheelchair space, because passengers had left another buggy and two suitcases in the vestibule so I couldn’t pass, leaving me in the doorway area. Nobody arrived to claim these, even though I shouted down the carriage. I was tempted to offload them and call the police as unattended luggage, but in the end I sat in the doorway and refused to move to allow the train doors to shut until they were shifted.

Now I’m a firm believer in public transport and in it being available to all, and I know it’s difficult for parents with buggies. I’m up for adaptations for buggy users, and I don’t mind wheelchair spaces being used by buggy users, when they aren’t required for wheelchair users. But it’s the only space I can travel in! I booked the space. It wouldn’t be considered acceptable for somebody to leave their buggy on reserved chairs, so why is it OK in the wheelchair space? And when politely asked to move, why should I be subject to sniffy pissed-offness from the mother concerned, and exasperation from the guard for daring to refuse to move until I could get into the carriage?

Yeah, the guard. I’d booked the space, and I’d booked assistance. She knew I’d be getting on. So, the question arises, why did she not ask the woman to move her buggy BEFORE I got on? Being proactive would have made me feel a bit less like an inconvenient afterthought, reduced inter-passenger tension and been generally helpful. But maybe I’m asking too much. Et tu, Grand Central?

So I continue my journey as an afterthought, hemmed into the space by pushchairs and luggage blocking the aisle, when ten minutes before arriving into London, I decided to go to the loo before braving the Underground in my wheelchair. It was engaged, so I waited, and my trusty carer (the wonderful Mike) asked the buggy owners to move their charges so I could physically get to the toilet.

Then the upsetting incident happened. I’d coped with everything up to now, the shabby treatment, the huffiness, the accusing looks for daring to want to use the wheelchair space, but it was four tiny whispered words, so quiet I thought I had misheard, but then repeated. They emanated from a businessman in the seat opposite, who had been troubled to move his luggage out of the wheelchair space. These four, tiny, innocuous words?

Why don’t you wait?

That’s all it took to finally get to me, the idea that I should wait till I got off before going to the loo, that I was being unreasonable by wanting people to shift their buggies so I could get from the wheelchair space to the wheelchair accessible toilet on the train, to avoid having to navigate and find one on the station.

Mike was marvelous. I sat there in hurt silence, unable to cope with this small-minded berk shoving his nose in to a situation that didn’t involve him with his snidey sotto vice unhelpful comment; he asked what the problem was, and that all I wanted was to use the loo like 200 other train passengers. (He also got in an excellent jibe afterwards, by telling the guy that the loo was free when I’d left. Lol.)

I wonder: if Grand Central had treated me like a human being by e.g. affixing the wheelchair sign by the exterior door, ensuring the wheelchair space was free for me and keeping the entrance clear, would this guy have kept his trap shut? I wonder…

It’s amazing how it’s not the sign, the space or the corridor that got me (I’m used to those), it was those four whispered, snidey, demeaning words that brought home just how much of an unreasonable inconvenience I was perceived as. It’s these four seemingly innocuous words that will ring in my brain:

Why don’t you wait?

Leonard Cheshire advertise for rehab workers at less than the Living Wage

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Jul 092015
 

This advert for a rehabilitation worker demonstrates how Leonard Cheshire underpay their staff.

It’s for a rehabilitation worker in a specialist acquired brain injury (ABI) unit. Think head injuries from motorbike accidents, severe strokes and so on. Pretty specialist and full on work, in my view. The responsibilities include giving out medication, handling challenging behaviour, undertaking clinical interventions as directed by senior staff and so on.

The weekday pay is £7.16 per hour, or £7.41 for people with a relevant NVQ. (There is a 20% uplift for night and weekend work.)

The Living Wage is £7.85.

How can it possibly be right that Leonard Cheshire pay carers taking on this amount of responsibility, this commitment and making such a difference to people with severe brain injuries less than the living wage?

Contact Doug

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Jun 182015
 

Twitter works well: Twitter handle kingqueen3065

My email address is doug.paulley@(this domain name). I’m trying to reduce spam; please replace (this domain name) with kingqueen.org.uk .

Should you wish to send encrypted mail, here’s my PGP public key as a file and in the following text:

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Pissing Off A Paulley

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Jun 122015
 

I went on a little rail jaunt today. As some people will know, I have been not doing too well recently and I needed this to go well. I was doing this fantastic rail tour – plus the trip from Wetherby and back. 5:20am set off…

This rail tour requires an unusual ticket: the Ffestiniog Round Robin. I have previously had difficulties buying this in Leeds station as the ticket office staff don’t know how to issue it (eventually resulting in apologies and compensation) So I thought I’d pre-empt this by tweeting  Northern Rail.

No prizes for guessing what happened when I arrived at the ticket window at 05:40. The woman behind the counter (who had zero customer service skills and a moribund attitude) was ineffectually pawing at the screen like a slack-jawed luddite. She had never heard of such a ticket. She went away and got the supervisor. The supervisor had never heard of such a ticket. It could not be found anywhere throughout the whole computer system. (I was SO glad I tweeted to make sure that they were well-prepared.) In the end, I suggested they tried “Ffestiniog Round Robin” as a destination as opposed to a ranger / rover. This worked, but they still couldn’t issue the ticket until I suggested setting the From station as Whitchurch. Finally they issued my ticket. 20 minutes later.

Throughout the whole thing, the woman behind the counter gave every impression that I was the problem; she never apologised once. (Her boss did, very briefly.)

To rub salt into the wounds, when I remonstrated with Northern Rail on Twitter:


Yeah thanks, that made everything feel better.

At Llandudno Junction, on getting on the train, this greeted me,

2015-06-12 10.25.302015-06-12 10.44.49

Ah right, it’s not a wheelchair space, it’s a wheelchair, buggy and cycle space. That’s why there isn’t any indication at all in the “omni-space” that it is, in fact, meant for wheelchair users. Obviously the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations is irrelevant.

Where a train consists of a number of regulated rail vehicles shown in column A there shall be in that train not less than the number of wheelchair spaces shown in column B opposite that number of vehicles;

Wait, what’s this? They are wheelchair spaces? But there’s no signs!

a sign conforming to diagram C in the Schedule shall be marked on the fixed structure.

One has to wonder if “diagram C in the Schedule” creates an optical illusion by which the sign looks amazingly like a cupholder?

uksi_19982456_en_003Hmmm. Not terribly cupholderish.

Later, the next Arriva train: Porthmadog to Shrewsbury, a 3.15 hour epic. This train was ROASTING. It was so hot and hazy and uncomfortable that other passengers were stripping off to the waist. The air conditioning was broken. I don’t do well in the heat, partly because I’m fat, but also because of my impairment. It was most uncomfortable being stuck in an overheated carriage all that time.

What’s more, the interior door to the carriage wouldn’t shut. The conductor had opened the three postage-stamp sized windows by the fraction of an inch allowed by their mechanisms, so despite getting about as much fresh air as being coughed upon by an asthmatic field mouse, the noise was enough to resonate in my hearing aids and drive me crazy. Perfect.

Other passengers could move to the two delightfully quiet and frosty carriages with working air conditioning that joined us at Machynlleth. I obviously could not.

The pièce de résistance of the whole day is demonstrated by the following phone conversation.

I had a teensie bevvie or two on the way round; and some time after Shrewsbury’s platform staff helped me into the wheelchair space on the next train nature took its toll and I needed to pay a call. But the toilet was engaged. It had apparently been engaged for a very long time. I sent trusty 1:1 carer Mike to find the train guard, who went to see the driver to check if the toilet was out-of-order. It was; it turns out that the driver was aware of this fact but hadn’t bothered to tell the guard, the station staff or apparently anybody else.

The guard (who was excellent) unlocked the toilet. It was entirely clear why it had been locked out of use. (I won’t go into detail.) So what to do? Unlike other passengers, I couldn’t get to any other toilet. The only other option: to get off the train at the next stop and use the station toilet – but the guard told me the train would leave without me. No way. I’d already been travelling 14 hours at that point. I wasn’t going to catch a later train, thus missing my connection, have my oh-so-carefully booked assistance stuffed up.

This therefore resulted in the above gunfight in the OK corral.

In the end, common sense prevailed. Arriva Trains Wales‘ control room were still in a tizzy, but this wonderful guard had (ultra vires) contacted the next station, discovered that there were toilets directly outside where the train would stop (which weren’t fully accessible but that I could at least get in), had asked for help from the platform staff, and had decided to allow me to get off to rush to the loo and back. Which I did.

Other passengers congratulated me on my turn of speed; smoke was coming from my tyres; Mike did a Linford Christie impression, and the passengers commented that actually, I had taken less time than if there was a crowd trying to get on, or someone with a bicycle. We arrived in Manchester early.

Why should all this be necessary, though? All for a simple call of nature?!

Of course, as expected, to top it off the assistance staff didn’t turn up at Manchester to get me off that train or onto another. (Thanks, Network Rail.) Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – this is sady not uncommon, particularly at Manchester.

Jun 062015
 

I raised in blogs passim that Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability (salary: £150k+) had this to say in the Huff 9 months ago:

At the very least we should celebrate care as a wonderful career choice with great training; and nothing less than a living-wage should be acceptable.

rates-currentThe Eye picked up that pay rates in LCD’s job adverts are less than the Living Wage ( £9.15 in London, £7.85 in the rest of the UK). In fact, they’re still not paying it. Here’s a current advert for a carer at Leonard Cheshire Disability in rural Carmarthenshire (posted 1st April 2015 and valid until the end of June) – salary: £6.53 an hour.

In response to my previous complaint that they don’t pay the living wage, Leonard Cheshire Disability said that they would like to but they aren’t paid enough by councils for residents’ care, so they can’t pay their carers the living wage. I was suspicious, so in January, I sent freedom of information requests to every council with social services responsibilities in England, Wales and Scotland, and every health and social care trust in Northern Ireland, to ask them whether Leonard Cheshire had asked councils to pay more so they can pay their carers the living wage, and how much Leonard Cheshire charges the council for residential care for people with physical impairments under the age of 65 compared to how much other providers charge. Here are a few sample responses.

There are 172 councils with social care responsibility and Northern Irish health and social care trusts in the UK. 168 have responded (four are with the Information Commissioner.) Of those, 123 councils hold contracts with Leonard Cheshire. 2 have lost their correspondence with Leonard Cheshire; that leaves 121 who hold correspondence from Leonard Cheshire about their fees levels. (The full data are available in this spreadsheet.)

Of those 121, how many councils do you think Leonard Cheshire asked to increase their payments so that Leonard Cheshire could pay the living wage?

None.

Not one single one. As of January, LCD had not asked any council to increase their fees so they could pay the living wage. 0%.

Leonard Cheshire had written to the councils asking for increases, but cited inflationary increase only – here’s an example letter.

So let’s see; maybe Leonard Cheshire charge less than their competitors, and that’s why they have to pay less. This is less clear-cut: councils generally agree the fees paid to residential care service providers based on the needs of each client. 72 councils provided usable comparative details of fees paid to both LCD and other providers for residential care for adults under 65 whose primary need is physical impairment (other councils had few clients and thus either couldn’t give scientifically significant data or couldn’t give information without risking identifying residents and so on.)  Of these 72 councils, 8 councils paid LCD less per client than other providers; 7 paid roughly the same to LCD and to other providers; and 56 councils paid more to Leonard Cheshire Disability than other providers.

78% of councils pay LCD more than other providers.

Okay; so LCD say that “nothing less than a living wage should be acceptable” for care workers; but they haven’t and still don’t pay it. They say it’s because they don’t get enough money from councils, but in 78% of councils they get paid more than other care providers, and they haven’t asked ANY council for more money so that they could pay their carers the living wage.

My Dad confronted Leonard Cheshire about this.

Vicky Hemming, People Director at Leonard Cheshire, said this in this letter of 22nd May:

“We remain in regular dialogue with commissioners, and have in fact recently written to all local authorities who commission our services about our desire to pay the living wage.

Oh, really? I thought I would check. I put in further Freedom of Information Requests to 21 councils who had been particularly helpful the first time round.

Anglesey: (nearest LCD service: Carmarthen, whose job advert I quote above)

I have summarised your request as: “any representation Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) has made to your council to increase fees paid by yourselves to LCD in order to enable LCD to pay its carers the Living Wage”.

I have discussed your request with the relevant Senior Manager who provided me with copies of communications between LCD and the Isle of Anglesey County Council and the North Wales Commissioning Hub (NWCH) response. As a result I can confirm that the correspondence related to fees, but had no mention of Living wage.

East Yorkshire’s response:

We have been in correspondence with LCD about fees levels but this has not being regarding the living wage.

Monmouthshire:

Monmouthshire County Council has received further correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Disability about fees but no mention has been made of the Living Wage.

How can Leonard Cheshire claim to have “written to all local authorities who commission our services about our desire to pay the living wage” and yet three councils (so far, many are yet to respond) have had NO correspondence whatsoever about the living wage from LCD? Is there a fit of collective amnesia, or some careful manipulation of the truth?

The truth is straightforward and totally borne out by all the above research.

  1. Leonard Cheshire Disability claim that “nothing less than the living wage is acceptable” for carers.
  2. Leonard Cheshire Disability comprehensively pay less than the living wage to its carers.
  3. Leonard Cheshire Disability have lied about the reasons they don’t pay their carers the living wage.
  4. Leonard Cheshire Disability have lied about their supposed actions taken to enable them to pay their carers the living wage.

The implications:

  • Leonard Cheshire Disability’s claim to value their carers is obviously complete rubbish, as they don’t pay their carers a living wage.
  • Whilst they want the good PR of appearing to support the Living Wage, the reality is that they don’t and that they use illegitimate excuses for not doing so.
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability have lied about the actions they have taken to enable them to pay the Living Wage. In reality, they have done VERY little.
  • This is a sad indictment of Leonard Cheshire Disability’s treatment of its staff, and – by proxy – its service users.
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability can’t be trusted in their public pronouncements.

When are they going to actually start paying the living wage?


ADDENDUM

Since publishing this post, so far the following councils have responded about whether they have had LCD’s supposed recent missive on the Living Wage.

Torfaen:

I can confirm that Torfaen Social Care Service has not received the correspondence you refer to below.

Brighton:

Brighton & Hove Commissioning & Contracts Team have not received correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Foundation regarding the Living Wage.

West Lothian:

 I can confirm that West Lothian Council has received no further correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Disability in relation to increase in fees for services.

Kensington and Chelsea:

We received correspondence from Leonard Cheshire but there was no reference to the Living Wage.

Kirklees:

We have not received any request from Leonard Cheshire Disability about their desire to pay the living wage to their carers.

Northumberland:

I can confirm that we have received letters from LCD requesting an increase in fees to reflect inflation, but have no record of any correspondence referring to the living wage.

Milton Keynes:

we are not aware that the Joint Commissioning Team has received any correspondence from The Leonard Cheshire Disability regarding the living wage.

Barnet: (Hallelujia! Blimey! We’ve struck gold! A council that has actually had correspondence from LCD on the living wage! This is better than nothing, but hardly hard talking to the Council to make it happen, in my view.)

We fully support the recommendation of both commissions that social care should become a living wage sector.
While we recognise that this relies on a sustainable funding settlement from central government, I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this further with you, including ways in which we can work together to address this important issue for the sector.

Devon: (back to reality)

Devon County Council are not aware of having received any correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) in relation to the living wage.

Rhondda:

I have been informed that the Authority received a letter from LCD dated 19 December 2014 (copy attached). (aside: letter does not mention the Living Wage.) Since then the Authority has only received an email from LCD asking for a decision on the matter

Leeds: (Will wonders never cease? Another council that has had the same letter as Barnet.)

Leeds City Council Adult Social Care can confirm that we have received correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) which refers to a living wage for the care sector

Southern Health and Social Care Trust (Northern Ireland):

The Trust has not received the correspondence you have referred to.

Birmingham: At the point that Leonard Cheshire claimed it had recently written to all commissioning authorities about the Living Wage (22nd May), Birmingham Council had not received any such letter. They have since received a letter about the living wage (dated 16th June) referring to the previous letter. LCD’s 2nd letter says: “In recent months we have sought to highlight this issue” – I wonder what prompted them to do that?! They further request a meeting to “discuss ways in which we can work together to address this.”
If my exposure of LCD’s duplicity has contributed in any way to forcing them to start to address the Living Wage, then I am pleased, even if they’re just going through the motions. Carers deserve better pay.

The Authority did not receive the letter which preceded this

Cumbria: Had not received any letter from LCD at the time LCD claimed it had written to all commissioning authorities.

Leonard Cheshire Disability wrote to the Interim Director for Health and Care Services at Cumbria County Council on 16th June 2015. The letter goes on to state that…LCD wrote to CCC on 25th March…

Buckinghamshire: DID receive the communication from Leonard Cheshire.

 

The Great North Run for the Calvert Trust Kielder

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on The Great North Run for the Calvert Trust Kielder
Jun 022015
 

Many will know that I generally don’t like disability charities, in particular Leonard Cheshire Disability, as you may guess from various pages on my blog. The big disability charities institutionalise us, take our voice, consume our resources and use our language whilst oppressing us. As disabled people, we get portrayed as powerless objects of pity, charity recipients with no rights – the constant refrains being “Rights Not Charity” and “Piss On Pity“.

charities03-ungratefulCartoon courtesy of the excellent Crippen

So many will be surprised that I am fundraising for a disability charity.

The difference is that it’s the Calvert Trust Kielder, and they are…. different. Amazingly, wonderfully different. Of course, as a disability charity they have to do some of the supercrip” publicity, the “make a difference to some disadvantaged person’s life” and so on which grates so terribly; sadly this is necessary for funding. But in reality these are people who do their utmost to make stays with them as comfortable, entertaining and (should guests want it) challenging as possible, with the minimum of fuss. Nothing is too much effort for them.

end

People who know me will know that because I’m a gobby git life can be difficult for me, particularly where I live. I have been victimised so many times, in so many ways, both overt and covert, for daring to challenge organisations. I have had intense mental health crises, faced eviction, big safeguarding investigations etc. etc. etc. Throughout all this, the Calvert Trust Kielder have been an incredible oasis of togetherness and “can do” attitude. They have changed my life so much. I’ve been going there 14 years now, and I can’t wait until I can go again. (Once those bastard midges have buggered off for the year…)

So: I’m doing the Great North Run in aid of them. People who know me will know that I am about as un-sporty as they come; rotund, unfit, and generally loathe physical activity! So you’ll appreciate just how much this commitment is.

I know that many of my friends, co-campaigners and so on don’t have much or any money, so please don’t feel obligated – but should you wish to sponsor me, you can do so here:

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Or by text:

ss+(2015-06-02+at+03.21.06)

Thank you!!!!