On 1st March this year, representatives from the DPO Forum England, including Liberation, met with Tom Pursglove, the current Minister, to discuss some key, ongoing issues. These included:
- The need to be kept updated and for user-led groups to be fully involved in plans and developments now that the government will be replacing the National Disability Strategy. Among specific suggestions and requests, three key points from Liberation were: the need to move away from all forms of institutionalisation, the importance of using Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People as the basis for our lives in the community and the importance of recognising that Disabled people are very diverse, not 'all the same'
- The forthcoming White Paper on transforming support. Whilst we made it clear that improved support for Disabled people who are able to work is welcome and needed, several of us emphasised how traumatic the welfare benefit system often is at the moment, including its use of sanctions and conditionality as a way of pressurising people into work whether work is realistic for them or not. We again emphasised, too, the need for user-led organisations to have a strong influence over developments
- Concerns about the plan to end energy support in April. The increased Minimum Income Guarantee was acknowledged, but a plea was also made for this increase to happen automatically on an ongoing basis. There was a strong request, too, for pre-payment meters to be banned, including forced use of them.