Challenging the crisis in children’s social care

Last month, there was a very important cross-party debate in the Commons about the crisis in children’s social care in England – discussing rising thresholds; cuts to local authority early support services; reductions in social care packages for disabled children; the rising numbers of children being taken into care; and the postcode lottery of spending on children’s social care.

I applaud the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Children and their dogged attempts to keep this issue in the spotlight and bring this to the attention of government ministers.

Chris Mullen, Social Care Policy Advisor

Chris Mullen, Social Care Policy Advisor, National Deaf Children’s Society

The Government isn’t recognising that there is as a national emergency in social care funding, despite widespread charities, academics, parent groups and the Local Government Association saying there is.

So, during these times of austerity and Brexit, should we simply back off, do nothing and sympathise with the local authorities who are struggling to provide vital local services to deaf children, including education and social care?

Yes and no.

Yes, we do indeed sympathise with position local authorities are in – many of whom say they are simply unable to provide the statutory services they once did but are still are under a legal obligation to provide.

No, because we shouldn’t simply accept this. The law hasn’t changed, the additional support we know deaf children and young people receive hasn’t changed, and many deaf children still fall behind their hearing peers.

From my colleagues in our Policy and Campaigns team to our network of parent and deaf campaigners, our Children and Family Officers, our Helpline team and our Appeals and Disputes advisors – we all work to professionally challenge wherever services are failing in their legal duties to meet the needs of deaf children and young people. The National Deaf Children’s Society is indeed a team effort.

This includes supporting professionals working directly with deaf children. The National Deaf Children’s Society has a free social care advisory service that any professional can call for advice and support.

In these difficult times, we must not be afraid to challenge the issues when necessary but we must equally remain hopeful for this current and future generations of deaf children and young people and their families.

Deaf young people and the Access to Work scheme

What are our top 5 policy asks?

With the right support put in place, deaf young people can work in almost any job role.

Sally Etchells, Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society

Some deaf people rely on communication support or assistive technology in order to be able to do their jobs. This support can be funded by the Access to Work grant scheme which is run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The scheme is highly valued by deaf young people because it covers the costs of support, above what might normally be expected of an employer to provide through reasonable adjustments. However, we believe the scheme is underutilised and could work better for young deaf people who are making the crucial move from education into work.

We are working to influence the DWP at the moment, and these are the top five things we are asking for.

  1. We want awareness of Access to Work to be raised among deaf young people and the professionals who work with them. Too many people don’t know anything about Access to Work.
  2. We want it to be easier to claim Access to Work if you are a young person organising work experience for yourself.
  3. For short notice interviews and job start dates, we want the DWP to put a temporary support package in place for people, before their Access to Work grant is approved. If this isn’t put in place, it means that many deaf young people have to miss interviews or delay starting their new job.
  4. Deaf people are the biggest group of claimants of Access to Work. We think this justifies the demand for specialist assessors and advisers that understand deafness. At the moment we hear many accounts of poor customer service and a lack of deaf awareness.
  5. We want the DWP to improve data collection around Access to Work. At the moment, we only have figures on the number of deaf claimants, or young claimants, not both!

You can find out more and apply for Access to Work on the DWP website. Any questions? Contact Sally on campaigns@ndcs.org.uk

Parliamentary Inquiry into PIP

Sally Etchells, Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society

For a signed video of this content please click here!

Have you had a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment? Did you appeal against the decision? Do you have views on what went wrong or what needs to improve?

If you have, the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee wants to hear from you!

The committee is a powerful group of MPs whose job is to hold the government to account, highlight problems in the system, and make sure the government listens to real people who have been affected by issues such as benefits reform.

The committee has just launched a new inquiry into PIP and Employment Support Allowance (ESA). It is particularly focusing on the assessment stage of the process, but also Mandatory Reconsideration and appeals too.

It is so important that the voices, experiences and situations of deaf young people are heard by the people in power who can actually make a difference.

If you’ve been affected by PIP, we want you to fill out the short form telling MPs exactly what you think is wrong with the system, and how it can be improved for deaf young people.

The deadline for submitting evidence is Friday 10 November. You can find out more about the inquiry and how to submit evidence at this web page:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/pip-esa-assessments-17-19/

If you want to provide evidence in a non-written format, you need to contact the committee staff by emailing workpencom@parliament.uk

house of commons

“We must all do whatever we can”

Sally Etchells, Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society

I recently interviewed Caroline and Anthony, members of our campaigns network and also parents to three children, Emily, Jack and Thomas. Thomas is ten months old and profoundly deaf. He also has a very rare condition called CHARGE syndrome which means he has additional needs. I spoke to Caroline and Anthony about why being a part of the campaigns network is important to them. 

 Why did you join the campaigns network? “We need to defend the services that are so vital to Thomas, our family and other deaf children. Thomas cannot tell people himself how much he needs, enjoys or how much he gets from the service so it is up to us to be his voice and to make sure that it is heard”. 

 What have you recently campaigned on? “We found out that Manchester City Council was planning to cut the Sensory Support Service for deaf children so, given how much we rely on this service, we knew we couldn’t stand by and let them do this without a fight.”

 Update: With the help of many parents and local campaigners, we managed to reduce the planned cuts in Manchester. We will now be working closely with the local authority to ensure deaf children in Manchester continue to get the right support.

 What kind of campaigning tactics did you use? “We responded to the council’s consultation and also wrote a letter to the council outlining how our whole family relies on the service. We also wrote to our local MP about the cuts and asked him to reject them on our behalf. He wrote to the council and supported us. Having your local MP on board really does make a difference.”

 What do you get from NDCS? “It is great that we can contact NDCS directly for advice or to answer any questions we have. They have travelled over to Manchester to meet with us and to gather feedback on how the changes affect us”.  

 Why should other people sign up to the network? “It is up to parents to stand up and fight for their children. We cannot allow our deaf children to be disadvantaged either now or in the future as cuts will affect children perpetually. We must all do whatever we can.” 

 Our campaigns network is made up of around 7,000 people who are passionate about campaigning to protect valuable services for deaf children and young people. The network is open to anyone and is completely free to join. Our campaigns network members take action on local and national levels to make sure services for deaf children are defended. Join the campaigns network today to be the first to find out about campaign actions in your area and to receive regular updates from the team:

http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=19&ea.campaign.id=45735&ea.tracking.id=TA

 

 

PIP’d Off Campaign Update – Justin Tomlinson meeting…

Jessica Reeves Campaigns Manager

Jessica Reeves, Campaigns Manager

Last week, after over 800 of our supporters wrote to him, we met with the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson to talk about why people are so PIP’d Off with the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) process. NDCS Chief Executive, Susan Daniels and I met with Justin and representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions to explain how deaf young people are currently missing out on PIP.

We discussed the following issues, which you had raised with us:

YAB member Liam O'Dell meeting with Justin Tomlinson at party Conference

YAB member Liam O’Dell meeting with Justin Tomlinson at party Conference

  • Why so many deaf young people are missing out on PIP because the current guidance fails to recognise the support that many deaf young people require to communicate with their hearing peers
  • How face to face assessments are putting deaf young people at a disadvantage by placing them in unrealistic situations which do not take into account the difficulties that many deaf young people face in the real world, in noisey environments, trying to engage with non deaf aware people
  • The fact that deaf young people currently have to telephone to ask for an application form and how NDCS can help make sure that a digital claim process is available quickly and is accessible to young deaf claimants

The meeting was really productive and Justin was interested to hear about the issues that young deaf people are currently facing and he has said that he is keen to improve the system.

We will now be working with the Department of Work and Pensions to improve the current PIP guidance and improve deaf awareness at assessments.

I want to say a big thank you to all our supporters and Campaigns Network members without which this excellent result would not have been possible.

We will keep you posted!

Make it the law to close the gap

Katie Rafferty, Policy and Campaigns Officer Scotland

Katie Rafferty, Policy and Campaigns Officer Scotland

That is what the Scottish Government is aiming to do through their proposed Education (Scotland) Bill. The Bill contains fresh proposals that would require public authorities to report on how they are succeeding to close the education gap for the most disadvantaged young people.

The Scottish Government’s vision for children and young people is to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up and learn. The wide attainment gap that exists between those leaving school with the best and poorest outcomes undermines that vision. The Bill, along with the Government’s Attainment Challenge Fund work, aims to tackle this issue.

How do deaf children and young people stand to benefit? With the right support, deaf learners can achieve the same outcomes as their hearing peers of similar ability. Despite this, deaf learners are among the lowest attainment groups in Scotland. This has been acknowledged through the recent Inquiry into the attainment of pupils with a sensory impairment.

However, the challenge lies in how the Bill defines “disadvantaged” and its focus on socioeconomic deprivation. Of course, there is a strong connection for all young people, including those who are deaf, between poverty and poorer educational outcomes.

However, poverty is not the only factor which can affect how well a deaf young person does at school. National and local investment into the things they might need at school: qualified interpreters, specialist teachers, good acoustics and effective technology, all have an important role to play. No matter how well off a family is, if something a deaf child needs is missing in their local community they won’t be supported to reach their full potential.

NDCS welcomes this ambitious new Bill, but we are calling on the Scottish Government to take the opportunity to address the multiple factors that cause attainment gaps, including Additional Support Needs. You can read our response to the committee here.

You can find out more about the Bill and follow its journey through Scottish Parliament here.

We’re PIP’d Off

Liz Partridge, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer

Liz Partridge, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer

Deaf young people are reporting problems with all aspects of the process to claim the benefit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

From having to use the phone to request an application form, to staff lacking deaf awareness and finally being denied the benefit, the process discriminates against deaf young people.

Unfortunately the Government decided to rollout PIP to all from July 2015 before fixing these problems.

PIP’d Off campaign

In response we have launched a new campaign, PIP’d Off. This campaign calls on the Government to improve all aspects of the claim process for deaf young people. As part of this campaign, we’re asking people to take action and call on the Government to halt the rollout out of PIP until it is fully accessible to all deaf young people. Almost 800 people have emailed the Government about this issue so far!

Here’s what some people had to say in their messages to the Disability Minister:

 “When I received a letter from Department of Work and Pensions, letting me know that my DLA was due to end this year and I needed to apply for PIP instead. On the letter, it was stated that I had to PHONE them to get an application form so I could get started on applying for my PIP. I am 26 years old and I had to ask my mother to make the phone call on my behalf. It is not acceptable to expect a deaf young person to ask others to make the phone call for them. This takes away their right to independence and privacy.”

“I personally have had to write to get a PIP form sent to me, only for my application to be dismissed as it is deemed I ‘cope’ well with my life long disability. My husband has had to ring for another form as since having my first child, who is also deaf, my deafness is causing more difficulties for me. The CAB have advised I should be entitled to PIP hence trying again. There needs to be Deaf aware specialists working on Deaf cases and applications to ensure those of us ‘coping’ with this hidden disability get the support we deserve.”

“My daughter, who is nine, is deaf.  I worry greatly about her future.  This present government appears to singling out the most vulnerable in society and it does not reflect well on your party,  Surely it is better to help young deaf people become contributing members of society, paying taxes, etc. rather than living a life dependent on government support?”PIP'd Off

“Whilst it is good the Department is taking action, I need to admit why was this not planned at the very start, please, in accordance to the Equality Act  and consulting with experts like us Deaf people? The process should have been accessible for everyone from the very outset. There is anxiety amongst young deaf people and their families/carers that the email trial and the development of the online system are still not complete.”

“Surely, the Government should be setting an example against any form of discrimination furthermore I suggest that this is a breach of disability access rights and disability equal rights. An obstacle that wouldn’t be allowed should it be a physical obstacle against someone’s access to buildings etc. There is no difference, an obstacle for a disabled person’s rights is still an obstacle and the Government are guilty of putting obstacles in place in this instance.”

“We have a number of children with hearing impairment at school and two in particular whose disabilities will be life long. Looking ahead to their future I would like to think that those governing our country will consider ensuring that there really is equitable access to welfare benefits for the disabled. These young people have to work harder than their peers to achieve the same results. Everything is a challenge including socialising. Please look again at the PIP for these youngsters – they have the right to independence in the same way that every young person without disability does”.

“It is imperative that equal access is a priority & the timetable for the rollout of PIP needs to be addressed to ensure any minority group is not disadvantaged. This has very serious implications & the Government has a clear duty of care to ensure all citizens are treated equally – not the case at the moment!” 

Take action

It’s clear that many people are not happy about this issue. Please have your say as well and take action as part of this campaign. Call on the Government to halt the rollout out of PIP until it is fully accessible to all deaf young people!

Find out more

Find out more about PIP’d Off and watch out for more blogs reporting on the progress of this campaign.

Get in contact

We would like to hear from you if you are a deaf young person (16-25) and have struggled to claim PIP. Please tell us your story by emailing campaigns@ndcs.org.uk