Hey Binners, Let’s Write To The UN!

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We would like to crowdsource from you lovely binners a submission to Philip Alston UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, who is gathering evidence in UK.

>DEADLINE Friday 14 September at 18:00 GMT Respondents are requested to limit their comments to a maximum of 2,500 words. Reports, academic studies and other types of background materials can be attached as an annex to the submission. All input will be treated confidentially by the Special Rapporteur and his team<

Humble suggestion: we take the framework of- our political economy creates and maintains poverty, poverty incites/exacerbates mental illness, with NHS, Local Authorities, and DWP assessing away need in order to make cuts the ‘safety net’ is gone (Police being ‘service of last resort’). So treatment and support is also failing, IAPT is a joke but it produces nice metrics for conferences! Professional response has been (apart from some honourable exceptions) poor & leaving us to fend for ourselves to get care or benefits. All underlined by inequality of- ethnicity, income, power, gender, class etc

To give us time to collate and arrange into a submission all comments etc will be collected by 10th September.

So please, have at it, tell the UN what you want them to know about Mental Health in the context of Extreme Poverty and Human Rights in the UK! Email your wondrous words (preferably not more than a few hundred) to recoveryinthebin@gmail.com marking them with the subject line UN Alston

Open Letter To Some Of Those Attending The Global #DisabilitySummit #NowIsTheTime

Open Letter to some of those attending the Global Disability Summit

To:

Lenin Moreno, President of Ecuador

Gabriela Michetti, Vice President of Argentina

Sophie Morgan

20 July 2018

We are writing this open letter to you on behalf of Deaf and Disabled people across the UK concerning your involvement in the global disability summit being co-hosted by the UK government in London on 23 and 24 July.

We are strongly in favour of international support that improves the lives of Deaf and Disabled people across the world and welcome co-operation between States that lead to stronger human rights laws and protections. We particularly support the building of international solidarity and links directly between Deaf and Disabled People, our organisations and campaigns.

However, we have the following concerns regarding the July summit:

The role of the UK government in co-hosting the event. Following an unprecedented investigation carried out by the UN disability committee under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), the UK was found responsible for grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform. The findings of their investigation, published in November 2016, were and continue to be entirely dismissed by the UK government. In August 2017 the UK government was routinely examined under the UN CRPD and again the UN disability committee expressed their deep concerns regarding the UK government’s failure to understand the Convention, the impact of their policies and failure to recognise them. Again the UK government said they disagreed with the findings of the Committee. The involvement of the UK government in co-hosting the summit therefore undermines any aims of the summit linked to strengthening Deaf and Disabled people’s rights under the UN CRPD. Instead it provides a platform for them to showcase to other States how it is possible to get away with ignoring those rights when it comes to your own citizens.

The UK government’s use of its international work to cynically deflect from criticisms of their disability record in the UK. On a number of occasions when government ministers have been criticised for implementing policies with an adverse impact on Deaf and Disabled people, they have cited the poorer conditions of Disabled people in other countries. This represents a misunderstanding of the UN CRPD which is about the progressive realisation of rights. The UN disability committee have such concern about the situation in the UK because it represents a serious and dramatic retrogression of rights, described by the Chair as a ‘human catastrophe’. In deflecting attention from their record in the UK, the Government clearly intend to more easily continue their punitive policies targeted at Disabled people and the poorest members of society. There is now overwhelming evidence, evidence which the UN disability committee considered, that prove the brutal impacts of these policies. It would be a betrayal to all those suffering under them not to raise concerns about attempts such as use of the global summit to divert attention and opposition to those policies.

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The suitability of the Government of Kenya as co-hosts given their abuse of the rights of LGBTQI+ people, many of whom develop lifelong impairments as a result. LGBTQI+ people in Kenya are routinely banished from their families, denied work and accommodation, imprisoned and persecuted. They face severe barriers to forming and maintaining relationships and to living as a couple, the ‘Right to Family Life’ that every human is promised. This results in widespread damage to their mental and physical health, creating impairments where none previously existed. This is reflected in the high level of asylum applications to the UK from LGBTQI+ asylum seekers from African countries.

Despite their experiences, the majority are then refused asylum in the UK and forcibly returned home, where many disappear or are murdered. Just this April, President Kenyatta said that LGBT rights are “not acceptable” and not “an issue of human rights”. The Kenyan Government has also claimed this is a non-issue for Kenyans, and no doubt would argue that it has nothing to do with the Summit. However, if you are Kenyan or Ugandan and are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or intersex, it is an issue that completely dominates and dictates your life. For many Disabled people from Kenya, it is the reason they developed an impairment in the first place. Under the UN CRPD, the Kenyan government also has an obligation to protect the rights of disabled people who are LGBTQI+.
We appreciate that you may not have had this information when you agreed to involvement in the summit and would be happy to meet to discuss our concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or for further information.

Yours sincerely,

Disabled People Against Cuts dpac.uk.net

Sisters of Frida sisofrida.org

Alliance for Inclusive Education allfie.org.uk

Inclusion London inclusionlondon.org.uk

Mental Health Resistance Network mentalhealthresistance.org

Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance rofa.org.uk

Recovery in the Bin recoveryinthebin.org

RITB Statement of Support

RITB (Recovery In The Bin) members have intersecting identities and social positions such as BME/LGBTQIA+/people in receipt of social security. We are a group of people marginalised in many ways, not just because we are mental and disabled by society. We especially wish to stand in allied solidarity with these groups and condemn racism, transphobia, homophobia, sexism & scrounger rhetoric. We call on liberation movements to stand in solidarity with us.

If you wish to add your name or org to this statement please email the details to

recoveryinthebin@gmail.com

Julie Gosling
– Making Waves
– Nottingham MAD Network

Akiko Hart, Mind in Camden

Andy Fugard, Birkbeck, University of London

Stan Papoulias, King’s College London

Jhilmil Breckenridge, Bhor Foundation, India and PhD Researcher at University of Central Lancashire

Gary, mental health service survivor

Helen Hewitt

Richard Ingram, West Coast Mental Health Network

Jayasree Kalathil, Survivor Research, London

Jayne Linney, Disability & Equality Activist

Dr Annie Hickox, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist

Rachel Yates, Central London BAPCA Group

Dolly Sen, mental health researcher and artist

Professor Bee Scherer, Director of the Social Justice Research Center INCISE, Canterbury Christ Church University

Suzi Mackenzie, Counsellor with a commitment to social justice

Jen Kilyon, Activist and campaigner for compassionate mental health services

Clare Knighton, Peer Support Worker

Melanie Davis, Mind in Camden

Alison Cameron, Survivor, activist and advocate

Helen Spandler, editor, Asylum magazine

Debbie Hamilton Newcastle Australia

Joanna Landeryou

Tom Wood, Mayday Self Help Groups

Alisdair Cameron, Launchpad Team Leader, ReCoCo co-creator

Mark Brown @markoneinfour

Jay Watts, Alliance for Counselling & Psychotherapy

Christian Kerr, mental ill health experiencer, social worker

Mirabai Swingler

Dina Poursanidou, Asylum magazine collective

​Derry Hunter. Survivor & Agitator. Recovery Wirral

Eleni Chambers, Survivor, researcher and activist

Esther McVey and the Samaritans: Psychologists for Social Change and Recovery in the Bin respond

Psychologists for Social Change and Recovery in the Bin response to news of Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions’, position on the Samaritans’ Advisory board.

As a group of psychologists (Psychologists for Social Change) and service users (Recovery in the Bin) we are deeply concerned at news that Esther McVey has a role on Samaritans’ advisory board and believe that holding this along with her position as secretary of state constitutes a conflict of interest.

We think a position advising the Samaritans is incompatible with the beliefs she has been shown to hold based on her record in government. Esther McVey is a conservative government minister with a long record of voting and working to reduce support for those requiring welfare benefits. She has consistently voted against any increases in welfare benefits, including for people who are unable to work through illness and disability and, over a three year period, supported a reduction in total welfare spending 29 times. In addition she has consistently voted to reduce housing benefit for those social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (‘the bedroom tax’).

People experiencing financial difficulties are at an increased risk of developing mental health problems (Kiely et al., 2015), being associated with self-harm (Barnes et al., 2016) and depression (Mirowosky & Ross, 2001). Increases in suicide rates have also been associated with times of economic crises (Branas et al., 2015). As such the Samaritans have become something of a lifeline for people suffering the consequences of the reduction and removal of crucial welfare support. It is frequently recommended by stretched Mental Health Services for whom crisis services may be minimal or non-existent, meaning the Samaritans can sometimes be the last resort for people who may feel suicidal.

Representatives of Recovery in the Bin, a group of mental health service users, have described this as an issue of trust and respect, experiencing her decisions and their consequences as abusive and detrimental to their mental and physical health. They drew attention to the fact that the United Nations have found the UK government and particularly the DWP guilty of ‘grave & systemic’ human rights abuses which have caused a ‘human catastrophe’ for disabled people. Therefore they state it is wrong to have a human rights abuser on a charity board, especially when that charity is supposed to help people who are harmed by her decisions.

Representatives from Recovery in the Bin noted that benefit cuts are a leading cause of crisis for mental health service users. Service users and more who are now discharged through service cuts feel betrayed by the Dept of Work and Pensions who have been shown to disproportionately discriminate against mental health claimants as court cases demonstrate. They are also the sole group targeted for employment as a “health outcome” which amounts to sanctions, workfare and removal of benefits.The insertion of Job Centre Plus into libraries and GP surgeries leave service users feeling that there are virtually no safe spaces left from the very government department they are affected by. Some will not not feel able to use the Samaritans until this additional imposition is rectified by the removal of Esther McVey.

UBI (Universal Basic Income): The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-1Universal Basic Income (UBI) has one intrinsically good feature: it ends the harmful idea that human worth is tied to a person’s ability to labour and produce profit. Instead it says every person is intrinsically valuable and everyone deserves the necessities to live and take part in society.

After this however the Devil is in the detail. UBI is a tool and tools can either help or harm. Unfortunately too much discussion of UBI neglects the essential details that determine if the versions of UBI being proposed is harmful or helpful. So here briefly are the necessary features of UBI that are required for it not to harm people:

One question to ask yourself is: Would I be content to live on the level of UBI I am proposing? Unless the answer is Yes, you are proposing a UBI that is regressive and harmful.

1. Level
UBI must be set at a level that provides for an income that allows a person to live on it, in dignity and inclusion with society. In the UK the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) estimate [1] the minimum income for a single person to live in society is £17K. Currently Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) is £73, this is not enough to live on and anyone proposing this level will be harming people with their UBI ideas. Unemployment benefit has been devalued over the previous 4 decades, if we were to have it at the level of proportion of earnings it was 40 years ago, it would be £140 plus payments for rent and disability on top. So under the subject of level it must also be asked- is UBI to be parallel to existing social security systems, or a replacement? If a replacement if must also feature discussion of how housing is to be provided, regulated, and paid for.

2. Funding
UBI must address ongoing inequality and seek to reduce it over time, this is best achieved by funding it through a progressive and just tax regime. Currently the global consensus is against taxation in general and particularly against a progressive system. In the UK alone there is a tax gap of circa £120Bn [2] which is not being addressed and the current effect of the overall taxation system has lessened in its progressive effects to being almost flat in that regard [3]. Any UBI proposal that does not address how this situation is solved will be regressive and harmful.

3. Social Justice and Human Rights
UBI must pay additional amounts to people whose everyday living costs are greater than the average, generally this means those with children or caring responsibilities and deaf, chronically sick, and disabled people. Any UBI that does not build in additional support for these groups will be regressive and harmful.

Any discussion of UBI without a discussion of these three features will necessarily be incomplete, and thus regressive and harmful.

Most versions of UBI being proposed or tested fail these three criteria and this failure is not being discussed. This makes the current UBI movement extremely dangerous and more akin to proposing a subsistence subsidy of labour that is to benefit business, and not a system to nurture human and planetary welfare. It would perhaps be better to look at more profound and holistic analyses of our political and social economies and how to turn those from being oppressive into nurturing and just systems that will avoid our extinction as a species. Have a Doughnut [4]?

[1] https://www.jrf.org.uk/income-benefits/minimum-income-standards

[2] http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Documents/PCSTaxGap2014Full.pdf

[3] https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/how-regressive-our-tax-system

[4] https://www.kateraworth.com/doughnut/

Also see https://recoveryinthebin.org/2017/06/25/the-neoliberal-writing-on-the-wall-ontarios-basic-income-experiment/

https://recoveryinthebin.org/2018/07/31/on-universal-basic-income-be-careful-what-you-wish-for/

UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty & human rights Philip Alston’s very good overview of UBI http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/35/26

And a treasury of UBI links:

https://ocaptoronto.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/what-basic-income-means-for-disabled-people/

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Basic-Income-as-a-Neoliberal-Weapon-20170217-0009.html

http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/1350.php#continue

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/01/ubi-finland-centre-party-unemployment-jobs/

https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/universal-basic-income-is-a-neoliberal-plot-to-make-you-poorer/

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/01/universal-basic-income-switzerland-finland-milton-friedman-kathi-weeks/

https://jacobinmag.com/2017/12/universal-basic-income-inequality-work

https://londongreenleft.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/universal-basic-income-too-basic-not.html

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/monitor/redistribution-through-basic-income

https://dpac.uk.net/2017/09/why-dpac-has-concerns-about-a-neo-liberal-basic-income/

https://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/universal-basic-income-not-answer-poverty

https://dpac.uk.net/2018/06/solution-or-illusion-the-implications-of-universal-basic-income-for-disabled-people-in-britain/