rightsinreality

Thoughts on the crossroads of law, politics and society – for when 140 characters just won't do. This blog contains general information and commentary on legal matters. It is not intended to provide legal advice. This blog discusses the law in England, unless otherwise stated.

Tag: Easier Read

Easier read – Getting away with ignoring disabled people’s rights

This is an Easier Read version of my latest blog post on Impunity’ in relation to breaches of disabled people’s rights. Thanks as always go to Anne Collis at Barod.

There’s a law that says that local councils must go to court if they want to take away someone’s freedom to get up and leave a place.

Andy McNicoll did some work for Community Care magazine.

He found that over 50 councils hadn’t gone to court in any of these cases.

But those 50 councils knew of over 6,000 cases when they might be taking away someone’s freedom.

That means over 6,000 times that someone’s rights are being taken away – and there are many more cases.

So what’s going to be done about it?

I don’t know if anyone will do anything about it.

The British Institute for Human Rights is sending tweets about how human rights make a difference to disabled people and elderly people.

Elderly people in a care home were being trapped in special chairs that stopped them getting up.

This wasn’t just bad care. This was against their human rights. It broke the law.

Someone who knew about human rights went into the care home. He talked to the staff.

The staff have stopped using the special chairs.

I am glad that this has stopped.

But that is not good enough.

The care home broke the law. They shouldn’t get away with it.

International human rights law talks about impunity.

This means someone can get away with breaking the law, and you can’t do anything about it.

It seems to me that this is what is happening in the UK.

Disabled people have legal rights.

If someone takes away your legal rights, you can go to court and the judge will make sure you get your legal rights.

But in day to day life, this is not happening.

This is why:

  • You need to know you have legal rights
  • You need to know someone has taken away your legal rights
  • You need to know you can go to court
  • You need the energy to take your case to court
  • You need a specialist solicitor
  • You need to get legal aid, or find another way to pay a solicitor to help you go to court.

So in day to day life, it feels like councils and services can take away people’s legal rights and there’s nothing you can do about it.

What happens if you do take a case?

You get an apology. You may get a small offer of compensation.

But does that really change things?

Does it make sure no-one else gets their legal rights taken away?

What else can you do?

  • You can go to the Ombudsman.
  • You can go to an inspection body.
  • You can ask the Secretary of State to do something

Will any of those make a difference for you or for other people who are having their legal rights taken away?

When we drafted #LBBill, we had to think hard about this.

Everyone wanted a new law

But many people assumed that the law will be ignored, unless the law includes serious punishment for breaking it.

What punishments might work?

  • Fining people
  • Managers losing their jobs
  • Closing down a service?

I don’t know.

I do know that something called a judicial review can work. You can still get legal aid for a judicial review.

We need to stop letting people get away with breaking the law.

We need to take our cases to court more often.

We must never keep quiet because “everyone does it”. We must always speak out.

If enough people take their cases to court, maybe local councils and services will realise they must obey the law.

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Easier read – Disabled people’s rights if the Independent Living Fund closes

I’m very grateful to Anne Collis at Barod for taking the time to turn my long post about the closure of the Independent Living Fund into easier words.

This is about England. Scotland and Wales have different rules.

The Government says they are closing the Independent Living Fund on 30 June 2015.

Disabled people are still campaigning to #SaveILF. Two disabled people have complained to the United Nations Disability Committee. But the Government has not yet changed its plans.

This is what the Government plans to do in England if the Independent Living Fund closes.

The Government will give extra money to local councils. But:

  • They are giving less money than the Independent Living Fund spent
  • The local council does not have to spend the extra money on support for disabled people

Many people are very worried and angry about this.

  • The Independent Living Fund supports 18,000 disabled people. This is a lot of people.
  • How can local councils give them good support and make budget cuts?

There are elections in May. Only the Green party has said they will save the Independent Living Fund.

So we need to plan for 1 July 2015.

Disabled people need to know their legal rights.

Anyone getting money from the Independent Living Fund needs to plan for 1 July 2015.

From 1 July 2015, people who get support from the local council and the Independent Living Fund will get all their support from the local council.

By law, people should still get enough support.

But I think people may need to challenge their local council to get this support.

The Care Act 2014 is a law. Everyone must do what a law says.

Chapter 23 (from paragraph 26) of the Care Act guidance says what happens when the Independent Living Fund closes. There is also an Easy Read version of the guidance.

The Care Act 2014 says that local councils must meet all a disabled person’s “eligible needs” when the Independent Living Fund closes.

This means local councils must know each person’s “eligible needs” before 1 July 2015.

The Care Act has rules to work out someone’s “eligible needs”.

“Eligible needs” are needs that the local council must meet.

Local councils must make plans so people do not have problems with support while the Independent Living Fund is being closed

You may have “eligible needs” if you need support so you can:

  • Be safe at home
  • Keep your home in a fit state
  • Make and keep friendships
  • Get involved in work, training, learning or volunteering
  • Use community services
  • Care for a child (if you have a child)

Section 18 of the Care Act 2014 just says the local council must “meet needs”.

Some local councils may think this means they can put someone into a care home if this is cheaper than support to live at home.

The guidance (paragraph 10.27) says local councils can balance what someone wants with how much money the local council has.

But the guidance also says local councils are not allowed set a maximum amount they will pay for support to live at home.

Paragraph 11.7 says local councils must at all times respect how someone wants their needs met.

It says local councils cannot assume people must move into a care home just because it is the cheapest option.

The Human Rights Act 1998 means:

  • people cannot be treated in an inhuman way
  • people have a right to a family life

The Courts may also look at the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This says disabled people must be able to choose where they live, just like people who are not disabled.

I think that it would be against the Human Rights Act to make a disabled person go and live in a care home when the Independent Living Fund closes.

So if a local council says someone must go into a care home, they may be breaking the law.

The Care Act says local councils must “promote that individual’s well-being”.

The Care Act has a list of what “well-being” means.

The list sounds as if people cannot be forced into a care home.

But the Courts will have to decide if the local council can force someone into a care home despite what the Care Act says.

The Care Act guidance (paragraph 11.26) says someone cannot get direct payments if the local council could arrange the same support and achieve the same outcomes but cheaper.

The Care Act says what must happen when the Independent Living Fund is being closed:

  • Someone from the Independent Living Fund and someone from the local council should come to see you
  • The local council must do a full assessment, using the Care Act rules

Just doing a visit is not the same as doing a full assessment.

I hope we can still #Save ILF.

  • Tom Shakespeare spoke on Radio 4’s A Point of View. He said why we need to #SaveILF.
  • The Independent Living Strategy group are about to launch a survey about independent living.
  • Kate Belgrave and Ros Wynne-Jones made a film with disabled people saying why we need to keep the Independent Living Fund.

The Independent Living Fund helped disabled people to be independent. Will the Care Act do the same thing?

If the Independent Living Fund closes, I think a lot of people may need to go to Court to get their rights.

Here are some lawyers who may be able to help you go to court. They can tell you about legal aid to pay for the costs of going to court.

I hope this post helps you to plan for 1 July 2015.

We must not let local councils act as if disabled people do not have human rights.

Please add your comments on how your local council is getting ready for 1 July 2015 and any worries or questions you have.

#SaveILF

Easier read – #LBBill – the first draft

Thanks as always to Anne at Barod for these easier words.

We have written our first ideas for #LBBill. This is called a draft.

You can read the draft on the #LBBill blog including the Easy Read version.

A big thank you to Change, Alicia and Dave for the Easy Read draft.

We need people to say what they think about the draft #LBBill.

We know the Bill must:

  • Make it the law that disabled people have a right to be part of their community
  • Make it harder for anyone to be forced to go away from home.

It is a bit like the Care Act 2014. But #LBBill is about all services including health, not just adult social care. And we don’t mind who provides a home and support. The important thing is that it is their home in their community.

Here are 4 important things from the draft #LBBill:

  • The Government must give people the right support in their own home. #LBBill stops services saying it costs too much to support someone at home. #LBBill says people must be able to get the right support locally. #LBBill says that what a disabled person wants is what is most important.
  • #LBBill says the disabled person, or their parent or the court must agree before someone is moved from their own home. #LBBill says the Secretary of State must be told when this happens. #LBBill says there must be a report every year to say how many people have to move from their own home.
  • #LBBill says the Mental Capacity Act needs changing. It must be changed so the disabled person and their family must have their say before anyone says the disabled person cannot make a choice. And if the person cannot make a choice, their family must have a say about what is best for the person.
  • #LBBill says the Mental Health Act also needs changing. It must be changed so it cannot be used just because someone has autism or a learning disability. The Mental Health Act should only be used if someone has autism or a learning disability and a mental illness.

What next?

These are the ideas in the first draft.

We need to know what you think. We need your ideas.

Then we can write a better draft.

Please talk to us on the LBBill blog or on Twitter or Facebook (#LBBill).

Please show your support for #LBBill .

The LBBill blog has links to help you do this.

#JusticeforLB

#Justiceforallthedudes

Easier read – #LBBill – more ways to make the Mental Capacity Act work better

This is the easier read version of the #LBBill post with Lucy Series’ ideas on how to make the Mental Capacity Act work better. Thanks as always to Anne Collis at Barod for these words. Check out the new #LBBill blog for more about our ideas to change the law.

Lucy Series has a blog. She tweets as @thesmallplaces. She knows a lot about mental capacity law – the law about how disabled people make decisions.

Here are Lucy’s ideas about how we can make that law work better for disabled people and their families.

The Mental Capacity Act has rules to work out what is in someone’s “best interests”. The rules may not fit with the United Nations rules about disabled people.

Ireland has got better rules for working out what is in someone’s “best interests”.

Families must have a say. They must have a say in working out if someone can make their own choice. They must have a say if someone cannot make their own choice.

Someone like Connor should be allowed to choose a supporter to help them make decisions. Canada has good rules about this. We need a rule like this in the UK too.

Everyone needs a good advocate. The rules about advocates in the Care Act are good. They are better than the rules about advocates for people who cannot make their own choices under the Mental Capacity Act.

Everyone should have the same rights to advocates. We also need a new rule so the advocate must appeal to the court if the person does not like what is happening to them.

This is what I think about Lucy’s ideas.

  1. Let’s put some of the rules from Ireland in #LBBill
  2. Supporters is a really good idea. I think we need to put this in #LBBill. What do you think?
  3. I agree with Lucy about advocates. Let’s put this in #LBBill too.

I have told you what Lucy thinks. I have told you what I think.

What do you think? Please tell us. And does anyone have any more ideas?

#JusticeforLB

#Justiceforallthedudes

Easier Read – #LBBill – making the Mental Capacity Act work

This is the easier read version of my last post on how #LBBill could change the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to make it work better for disabled people and families. Thanks again to Anne Collis at Barod for these easier words.

People are talking about what to put in the #LBBill.

Here are two things people are talking about.

  • Independent advocacy. This means having someone to speak up for you, or to help you speak up. I think this will be in the new Care Act. So it does not need to be in #LBBill as well.
  • Some people with autism or learning disabilities get ‘sectioned’. This means they have to get treatment even if they and their families do not want it. The law about this is called the Mental Health Act 1983. I think this law needs changing but it will be difficult to do this. I will write about this in another blog.

This blog is about changing the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The Mental Capacity Act is about who can make decisions.

The Act says how to work out if someone is not able to make their own decision about something. Then, it says how that decision should be taken for that person.

I think #LBBill can make two changes to the Mental Capacity Act:

  1. The Act must stop saying people’s wishes and feelings are just one thing to think about. The Act must say people’s wishes and feelings are the most important thing to think about.
  1. The Act must stop saying that professionals may listen to family members. The Act must say family members must be consulted unless it is proved that this would be bad for the disabled person.

I think these two changes will make it harder to move disabled people away from their communities where this isn’t what they want.

What do you think? Would these changes help?

Can you think of other ways to make the Mental Capacity Act work better?

Please keep talking about what you think needs to be in #LBBill.

And have a look at this beautiful quilt made in LB’s memory. 

#JusticeforLB

#Justiceforallthedudes

Easier read – #LBBill – what happens after June 2015

This is the easier read version of my second post on the process and timeline for #LBBill – thanks as always to Anne at Barod CIC.

 

My last blog says what will happen with #LBBill from now until June 2015.

This blog is about what happens after June 2015.

 

Why is June 2015 important?

June 2015 is when the ballot happens.

The ballot is when the names of 20 MPs are pulled out of a hat.

Only these 20 MPs can have a Private Members Bill.

The first MP gets to go first with his or her Private Members Bill.

The second MP gets to go next.

Usually, there is only time for the first 6 MPs to get a go at changing the law.

 

Here is what may happen in the ballot.

 

    1. None of the 20 MPs support #LBBill

We start planning for the 2016 ballot.

 

  1. An MP outside the top 6 supports #LBBill

We try to get a lot of publicity for #LBBill.

We try to get the Government to support #LBBill.

Then we start planning for the 2016 ballot.

 

  1. An MP in the top 6 supports #LBBill

We help the MP to make the Bill into a new law.

 

This is what happens if an MP who supports #LBBill gets chosen in the ballot.

 

June 2015 to Autumn 2015

We must work hard to get the Government to support #LBBill.

We must work hard to get all the MPs to support #LBBill.

We will need everyone to talk to their MP.

We will help you to do this.

 

In Autumn 2015, the MPs get to say what they think about #LBBill.

If the MPs vote to support #LBBill, we go to the next step.

If the MPs do not support #LBBill, the Bill stops.

 

Autumn 2015 to Spring 2016

Next step is to go to the House of Lords.

We need to get:

  • a member of the House of Lords to be in charge of #LBBill
  • all members of the House of Lords to support #LBBill

 

If the House of Lords votes to support #LBBill, we go back to the House of Commons.

Then we need to talk with the Government.

If we are lucky, we will end up with a #LBBill that does what we want and that the Government will support.

 

If everything works well, #LBBill could become law in Spring 2016.

BUT

  • There are a lot of steps for #LBBill
  • All the steps are hard
  • #LBBill has to get through all the steps to become law
  • It is very rare for a Private Members Bill to become law

 

There is a lot of support for #JusticeforLB and #LBBill

I think this means we have a real chance to change the law.

 

Please ask me questions.

You can use the comments below.

You can use Twitter (@stevebroach).

 

My next #LBBill blog will be about some more ideas about what to put into #LBBill.

 

#JusticeforLB

#Justiceforallthedudes

Easier read – what ‘we’ means

Thanks again to Anne at Barod CIC for these easier words.

When I blog, I keep saying “we”.

So who is “we”?

“We” means:

  • anyone who wants to change the law so disabled people have a right to live in the community and
  • people who are part of Justice for LB

 

What is Justice for LB?

Justice for LB is not an organization.

Justice for LB is a social movement.

A social movement means:

  • a lot of people believe the same thing
  • those people start to talk to each other
  • they try to change something

A social movement does not have a list of members.

You do not have to be invited. Anyone can choose to be part of the movement.

You are part of Justice for LB if:

  • you believe what happened to Connor was wrong
  • you talk to other people who think it was wrong
  • you want to stop it happening to other people

 

What is #LBBill?

#LBBill is not a project. No-one is the boss. No-one is getting paid.

#LBBill is a way for Justice for LB to try to change the law.

Anyone can be part of #LBBill. You do not have to be invited.  You are part of #LBBill if:

  • you tell people what you think about the Bill
  • you help other people to say what they think

You can do that by:

You could ask friends, family members or independent advocates to help you do any of these things.

Changing the law will not be easy.

I hope disabled people will want to work together to make the ideas for #LBBill into a law.

Easier read – #LBBill – how to make it happen

This is the easier read version of my post #LBBill – thoughts on process and timeline. Thanks so much again to Anne Collis at Barod CIC for these words.

 

Anyone can be part of writing #LBBill.

Here  is some information to help you get involved.

 

The Private Members Bills will be chosen in June 2015.

By then we must:

  • write the Bill
  • get lots of MPs to sign up to support the Bill

 

Writing the Bill

 

When we write the Bill, we must:

  • make sure everyone can have a say
  • make sure the Bill is what disabled people want

 

No-one can just sit down and write #LBBill.

#LBBill belongs to all of us, so we all need a say.

 

I think we can all have a say if we do this:

  • Write down our first ideas for a new law. We need to do this by September.
  • Send our ideas to lots of people
  • Lots of people tell us what they think
  • Have a go at writing #LBBill
  • Send #LBBill to lots of people
  • Lots of people tell us what they think
  • Have another go at writing #LBBill. We need to finish this by Christmas.

 

We do not have any money for the work on #LBBill.

This means we can’t pay for meetings or videos or Easy Read.

 

Some people are already helping for free.

Can you help for free?

Or maybe you have good ideas about how everyone can have a say?

 

If you can help other people to have their say, please:

You might want to ask a friend, family member or independent advocate to help you do these things.

 

Getting MPs to support the Bill

 

It is OK to start talking to your MP now. You can:

  • tell them about the problem
  • tell them we want a new law

 

By January 2015, we will have written #LBBill.

Then we can start asking MPs to sign up to support #LBBill.

 

We need as many MPs as possible to sign up because:

  • only 20 MPs get chosen for a Private Members Bill.

We must make sure some of the 20 MPs support our Bill.

  • for a Bill to become law, most MPs must support it.

It helps if the Government supports it too.

 

We will need to talk to:

  • all the political parties
  • civil servants who work for the Government

 

But for now it is more important to talk to the MPs.

If lots of MPs support #LBBill it is more likely that the government will support it.

 

Here are some free ways to get MPs to support #LBBill.

  • We can send emails
  • We can write letters
  • Local groups can ask to meet their MP.

 

If we can find some money, we can hold an event at the House of Commons.

 

We must make a lot of noise. We want to show MPs that people’s lives are important.

 

The May election

 

There is an election in May 2015.

We choose our MPs at the election.

The party with the most MPs gets to be the new Government.

 

This makes it harder for us.

We will need to talk to the MPs who are MPs now.

But we will need to talk to anyone who might get elected in May as well.

 

What do you think?

 

These are my ideas about what we need to do.

 

What do you think?

Please let us know!

Easier Read – the Autism Act – Lessons to Learn

Anne at Barod CIC has helped me put the post about the Autism Act 2009 into easier words (thanks again Anne). Check out the original post for more detailed information.

In 2009 there was a new law. It is called the Autism Act. It is meant to help adults with autism. Lots of people worked together. The National Autistic Society did a lot of work.

If they did it, so can we!

Here is how they did it:
Campaigners said what they wanted.
The ideas got written into a Bill – a suggested new law.
An MP put it forward a Private Member’s Bill – a type of new law.
The government agreed to support the Bill and it then became law.

We want to do this too.

But, the Autism Act hasn’t done everything it was hoped it would do.
We need to work out why.
We need to learn from the Autism Act.
This will help us to get a new law that does what we want.

The Autism Act is a type of law called a framework. This type of law does not have detailed rules. It says that someone in the Government will write the rules later. These rules are called guidance.
The Autism Act says local councils and the NHS must do what the guidance says unless they have a good reason to do things differently.

I think there are 2 problems with this.

Problem 1
Local councils and the NHS find it easier to be told 2 or 3 things to do.
They find it harder to work out what the guidance means when it says lots of different things.
They find it harder to work out how to do what the guidance says.
It is also harder for people to know what their rights are when they are in guidance. So it is harder to make sure you get your rights.

Problem 2
People get muddled by guidance.
They forget if guidance is the law, or just good ideas.
No-one is sure when local councils and the NHS can do things differently than the guidance says.

So for #LBBill, I think that we must get the most important rules written into the new law itself – not just in guidance.

We need to keep #LBBill simple. If the new law is simple, then:

• Local councils and NHS know what they must do
• People know what their rights are
• The law won’t just sit on a shelf and be ignored

Tell us what you think! See the guide on how to do it at the end of the last easier read post.

Easier Read – what #LBBill could say and do

Again, thanks to Anne at Barod CIC for this easier read version of my words.

The original version of this post has more detail.

Here are some ideas about #LBBill

Parliament has rules for Private Members Bills.
Our ideas have to follow their rules.
A big rule is that the new law cannot cost extra money.

Some people who want #JusticeforLB work in universities. They will make sure our ideas follow the rules.

Other people want to change the law too. They want new laws so disabled people have a right to live independently. These are big ideas.

We want to keep #LBBill very simple. A simple idea is easier to make into a law than a big idea.

At the moment I think the #LBBill needs 3 ideas:

Idea 1
A disabled person may need the NHS or local council to find them somewhere to live. #LBBill will have a list of rules. The rules will say how the NHS or local council must do this. For example, the NHS or local council must think about what someone wants, think about ways to keep them local and think about ways to help them be part of their community. If the NHS or local council breaks the rules, the disabled person or their family can ask the court to make them follow the rules.

Idea 2
The NHS or local council can only move a person if:
The person agrees (if they are over 16)
Their parent agrees (if the person is a child aged under 16)
The Court of Protection agrees (if they are over 16 but cannot make their own choice)
A Court called the Family Division agrees (if they are under 16 and they don’t have a parent who can make the decision for them) for them)

We think this will make the NHS and local councils think harder before they make people move.

A disabled person may get sent somewhere by a criminal court . So Idea 2 won’t work for them. But Idea 1 will still work.

A disabled person may get “sectioned”. This means they must go to hospital for mental health treatment. So Idea 2 won’t work for them. But Idea 1 will still work.

Idea 3
The local councils and NHS must make sure there is enough support for disabled people in the community. This is very important because it will mean less people need to be sent away from home.

I think this law will help.
It will not solve all the problems for disabled people.
But it will stop so many people being moved a long way from home.
I think it will stop people like Connor from dying.

This is what I think.
But what you think is what is important.

Tell us what you think.
If you use twitter, send a tweet use #LBBill. Then we can all see what you think.
If you use Facebook, ask to join the #LBBill group and post a comment there
If you use email, please email me at sbroach@monckton.com
You can post a comment here on this blog.

You can ask a friend, family member or independent advocate to help you tell us what you think.

The Bill must be ready by June 2015. By then we have to:
• agree what to put in the law
• get lots of MPs to agree with us

We will need everyone’s help and ideas!

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