Tories ‘shifting the goal posts’ on disability benefit entitlements, say Labour

Government has rewritten the law to deny higher benefit payments for more than 150,000 disabled people.

Callous Tory ministers have been accused of “shifting the goal posts” on disability benefit entitlements, after it was revealed that the UK Government has rewritten the law to deny higher payments for more than 150,000 disabled people.

Two social security tribunal cases resulted in the government being told to ensure more disabled qualify for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), which would better recognise how their condition affects their ability to live as independently as possible.

PIP consists of two separate components – a daily living component and a mobility element – each paying a standard or enhanced rate, with the enhanced rate paying more than the lower rate.

Claimants are awarded points in each component, depending on how their disability or long-term illness affects them on a daily basis, through an assessment system campaigners have likened to a “tick-box exercise”.

A minimum of eight points are required to qualify for the standard rate of each component, while claimants need to secure at least 12 points for the enhanced rate.

The first tribunal said those who experience “overwhelming physical distress” when outdoors alone, a common and debilitating symptom of severe psychological disorders that can leave sufferers trapped in their homes, should be awarded more points for the PIP mobility component.

An estimated 143,000 sick and disabled people would have benefitted from the ruling, with around half of these qualifying for the enhanced higher rate of £57.45 per week.

The other half would have qualified for the standard rate, currently £21.80 a week. A further 21,000 would have been moved from the standard to the enhanced rate.

A second tribunal said more points should be awarded in the daily living component for those who need help taking medication and monitoring their condition. More than 1,000 people would have benefitted from this decision, if the DWP had accepted it.

The DWP argued that adhering to the tribunal’s recommendations would cost the department an extra £3.7bn by 2022, the Daily Mirror reports.

So rather than accepting the Tribunal’s recommendations, and recognising how those affected incur extra costs as a direct consequence of their illness or disability, the DWP has instead decided to rewrite the law – yes, you read that correctly – thus denying tens of thousands of sick and disabled people the additional financial support they desperately need.

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams MP, blasted the decision: “Instead of listening to the court’s criticisms of PIP assessments and correcting these injustices, this government have instead decided to undermine the legal basis of the rulings”, she said.

Abrahams added: “This is an unprecedented attempt to subvert an independent tribunal judgement by a right-wing government with contempt for judicial process.

“By shifting the goal posts, the Tory Government will strip entitlements from over 160,000 disabled people, money which the courts believe is rightfully theirs. This is a step too far, even for this Tory government.”


When the going gets tough, supervisors pick on their weaker staff

A crisis changes everything. Friends are gone, and survivors must adapt to a new, dangerous environment. In the aftermath, predators circle to exploit the weak and vulnerable. According to new research, this not only describes the red tooth and claw of nature, it also applies to the workplace. Pedro Neves at the New University of Lisbon provides evidence that following an organisational downsize, employees are more likely to receive abuse from their supervisors.

Neves was guided by displaced aggression theory – the idea that workplace abuse is often a form of “kicking the dog” – venting our frustrations not at their source, rather at those whom we have power over. Neves predicted that this leads supervisors to target those most unable or unwilling to retaliate: submissive individuals characterised by low “core self-evaluation”(CSE; a combination of personal traits relating to self-image including self-esteem and belief in one’s own abilities), and/or those with fewer co-worker allies.

Survey data from 12 large and medium-sized Portugese organisations from a range of industries – financial to construction to healthcare – confirmed that individuals with lower CSE or less co-worker support were at the receiving end of more abuse, based on their self-ratings of items such as “my supervisor blames me to save himself/herself embarrassment” or “tells me my thoughts or feelings are stupid”. Four of the organisations had gone through downsizing in the prior two years, and in these, submissive employees were even more likely to be picked on. A post-downsizing environment involves uncertainty, ruptures to social networks, and a higher sense of individual risk – all of which heightens vulnerabilities and gives confidence to aggressors that their abuse is unlikely to be fought against.

The data also showed that submissive individuals performed more poorly and engaged in fewer organisational citizenship behaviours, which Neves argues is evidence of the employees also “kicking the dog” – in this case channeling their resentment of the supervisor into minor acts to undermine the organisation.

As this was a cross-sectional survey we have to be careful about drawing such causal inferences, but further analysis suggested two obvious alternative explanations were unlikely: that submissive traits were the consequence of supervisor criticism; or that abuse was causing both poor performance and the submissive traits.

Neves advises facilitating co-worker support as a bulwark against exploitation of the vulnerable, and to build the CSE of employees. These are good things to encourage in any case – but ultimately, the responsibility for change lies not with the abused, but the abusers, to cease picking on the weak.

ResearchBlogging.orgNeves, P. (2014). Taking it out on survivors: Submissive employees, downsizing, and abusive supervision. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology DOI: 10.1111/joop.12061

A small proportion of the population are responsible for the vast majority of lies

Obviously some people lie more often than others. What’s surprising is new research showing that the spread of lying propensity through the population is uneven. There is a large majority of “everyday liars”, and a small minority of “prolific liars”.

A few years ago Kim Serota and his colleagues put a figure on this. They surveyed a thousand US citizens and found that five per cent of the sample were responsible for 50 per cent of all lies told. Now Serota’s group have analysed data from nearly 3000 people in the UK and they’ve found the same pattern – the existence in the population of a minority of extremely prolific liars.

This new online survey is based on data collected as part of a public engagement project by the Science Museum in London in the Spring of 2010. Participants (51 per cent were female; average age 44.5) reported how often they told little white lies and how often they told big lies, as well as sharing their attitudes to, and experiences of lying.

The spread of answers was clearly skewed. Serota’s statistical analysis showed that 9.7 per cent of the UK sample were prolific liars. They averaged 6.32 little white lies per day and 2.86 big lies per day, compared with an average of 1.16 daily white lies and 0.15 daily big lies (about one per week) by the majority group of everyday liars. This means the prolific liars tell an average of 19 big lies for each single big lie by the everyday liars. The two groups generally agreed what counts as a big lie, with lying about whether you love someone being the most popular example.

The research also uncovered some intriguing differences between prolific and everyday liars. Prolific liars were more likely to be younger, male and to work in more senior occupational roles, although note these differences were modest. Prolific liars tended not to see lying as something that people grow out of. They were also most likely to lie to their partners and children (whereas everyday liars were most likely to lie to their mothers). Prolific liars were also more likely to say that their lying had landed them in trouble, including losing jobs and relationships.

Caution is required because of the different survey methods used, but this new research also allows a cross-cultural comparison between US and UK lying. Combining everyday and prolific liars, it seems that people lie more frequently in the UK – just over two lies per day on average, compared with an average of between one and two lies per day in the US, based on Serota’s earlier research. Another statistic – 24.4 per cent of the UK sample said they didn’t lie on a typical day, compared with 59.9 per cent of the US sample.

An obvious problem with this research is its dependence on people’s honesty about how often they lie. We’re in a somewhat bizarre situation of trusting prolific liars’ answers about their own lying. However, Serota and his colleague Tim Levine reassure us that past research has generally found self-reported lying to be fairly accurate. When more objective or third-party measures of lying are deployed, these usually correlate well with people’s self-reported lying rates. The current survey was anonymous, which would have helped.

The finding that lying frequency is distributed unevenly in the population has serious implications for deception research, most of which assumes that lying propensity is a “normally distributed” trait more like height or weight. “These data provide a strong case that the people who tell a lot of lies are not only different,” said Serota and Levine, “they are a population that needs to be studied independently of everyday liars in order to better understand the motivation and production of lies.” I wonder if future research might find that “prolific liars” are the same people who score highly on the Dark Triad of personality traits – psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism?

Serota, K., & Levine, T. (2014). A Few Prolific Liars: Variation in the Prevalence of Lying Journal of Language and Social Psychology DOI: 10.1177/0261927X14528804

Push for Action – Think Autism – NAS Campaign

As a result of our Push for Action campaign, the Government delivered Think Autism.

Please take 30 seconds to send a message to your council to alert them of the new steps that will help them do what they are supposed to.

Think Autism is the refreshed autism strategy that councils and the NHS should be following to remedy the historic barriers that prevent adults with autism and their families from getting the everyday support they need. It includes new national commitments to improve support, as well as programmes to help councils with their duties. We campaigned for the Government to do more to help councils unlock the barriers they were facing with regard to turning the autism strategy into a reality for individuals.

Please send an important reminder through our online form to the Director of Adult Services, who is responsible for making sure Think Autism is delivered.

I’ll be in touch next month when we launch new actions to prevent the care system from overlooking the specific needs of people with autism. Alongside embedding Think Autism in Bury, we’ll be making sure that changes elsewhere don’t undermine the tremendous progress we’re making.

Thank you,

Tom Madders
Head of Campaigns

Bury Adult Autism Strategy 2013-16 Approved by Bury Council Cabinet

The Bury Adult Autism Strategy 2013-16 has been developed by Bury Adult Care Services in conjunction with NHS Bury and the Autism Services Development Group. This Group includes members from Adult Care Services, Education, Communication Difficulties staff, Psychology, CAHMS, Additional Needs Team, Youth Services, and Children’s Services, Carer representatives, health colleagues and the National Autistic Society.

Who is the strategy for?

Bury Adult Autism Strategy sets out the vision for adults with autism who live in Bury. This includes those with High Functioning Autism (Aspergers Syndrome) and those who have a dual diagnosis which includes an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Aims of the strategy

The Bury Adult Autism Strategy focuses on five core areas of activity as outlined in the National Strategy:

  1. Increasing awareness and understanding of autism among frontline professionals.
  2. Developing a clear, consistent pathway for diagnosis in every area, which is followed by the offer of a personalised needs assessment.
  3. Improving access to the services and support which adults with autism need to live independently within the community.
  4. Helping adults with autism into work.
  5. Enabling local partners to plan and develop appropriate services for adults with autism to meet identified needs and priorities.

In short, the aims of the strategy are to:

  • Ensure that people have a better understanding of autism. This includes everyone from frontline staff, Job Centre Plus, receptionists, GPs and social workers.
  • Develop a local diagnosis pathway for adults with autism including post diagnostic support, sibling screening and reassessments
  • Develop new opportunities for social activity by working with partners
  • Ensure information is timely, accessible and relevant
  • Develop better access to universal services
  • Dispel negative perceptions of services and of autism
  • Develop more opportunities for employment, education and volunteering
  • Develop robust data collection systems

For further information about the Bury Autism Strategy 2013 – 2016

Jacqui Waite
Strategic Policy and Planning Officer 
(Policy Lead for Autism)
Adult Care Services, 
Castle Buildings, 1st Floor, Market Place, Bury. BL9 0LT
Tel;0161 253 6239
Please note: my normal working days are Mondays and Tuesdays 
Email: Bury Council – Strategic Planning Team
Write to us at Strategic Planning Team,
Bury Council Adult Care Services,
1st Floor Castle Buildings,
Market Place,
Bury, BL9 0LT.
( Call us on 0161-253-7975).

Disabled children and their transition into adulthood: the law and good practice

The session, facilitated by Camilla Parker from Just Equality, aims to provide attendees with an overview of the legal responsibilities of local authorities and NHS bodies to ensure that the social care, education and health care needs of disabled children are fully addressed – and sustained – as they move into adulthood. This session will also provide attendees with updates concerning relevant legal and policy developments.

Above all this is a forum where attendees will have the opportunity to discuss practical problems they have experienced and how these can be resolved, as well as share information on “what works” so that they can develop strategies on how to manage the transitional process successfully.


By the end of the session, attendees should have a better understanding of:

  • The need to plan adult transitions early, starting in year 9 (aged 14);
  • The legal obligations of local authorities and health bodies to manage the transition process and to cooperate;
  • The legal responsibilities of local authorities and NHS bodies to provide support services before and after a disabled young person’s 18th birthday.
  • The differences between the social care assessment obligations and eligibility criteria of disabled children and disabled adults;
  • The extent to which the duty to provide direct payments changes when a young person becomes 18;
  • The nature of local authority ‘children leaving care duties’ in relation to children who have been ‘looked after’;
  • The post 18 education rights of disabled people;
  • The differences between the NHS’s responsibilities to provide support for disabled children and for disabled adults;
  • The assessment of a person’s mental capacity to make decision and their ‘best interests’ and how this differs for adults and young people.

Dates and locations

  • Tuesday 25th June – Exchange Chambers, 7 Ralli Court, West Riverside , Manchester M3 5FT
  • Wednesday 26th June – Darwin Suite, Life Conference and Banquting, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4EP

Seminar Programme

9.30am – Registration – Tea/coffee and biscuits
10.00 am – Introductions
10.10 am – Transition: Frequently encountered problems
10.20 am – The legal obligations of local authorities and health bodies to manage the transition process and to cooperate

11.15am – Tea/coffee break
11.30 am – Education: an overview of transition planning for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities
11:50 – Social care:key duties (assessment obligation, eligibility criteria, carer’s rights, care planning, direct payments and personal budgets)
12.50 pm – Looked after children and the ‘children leaving care’ duties
1.15 pm- Q + A session
1.30 pm – Buffet lunch
2.15 pm – Health: The continuing responsibilities of the NHS
2.30 pm – Strategies to ensure a successful transition into adulthood
2.45 pm – Q + A session
3.00 pm – Evaluations & Close


£10 for parents and carers; £25 for professionals (non-returnable)


To find out more and to book your place please contact Melanie Dean at or telephone 01267 242 556.

Representing yourself in Court – A Guide from The Bar Council

Laspo – Will you know how to Represent yourself in Court ?

On 1 April 2013, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) came into force. It means that fewer people now have access to free legal representation than at any time since legal aid (state funding for legal advice and representation) was introduced. This means that if you have a legal problem there is now more chance that you will have to represent yourself.

A Guide

The Bar Council represents all barristers in England and Wales. We believe that access to justice matters. Whether people use barristers’ services or not, we think we have a responsibility to explain and demystify the legal system to anyone who comes into contact with it. We have produced a Guide – click here – to help you on your legal journey, which has been written by barristers, who have lots of experience in all kinds of different courts and understand how the system works.

The number of people who do not qualify for legal aid, but equally cannot afford representation, is growing. These people are called ‘litigants-in-person’ (LIPs) or, as they were previously known; ‘self-representing litigants’ (SRLs). They will have to go to court (to ‘litigate’) without a lawyer, and will have to represent themselves.

This Guide looks to help ‘litigants-in-person’ through their legal journey, which can be a very daunting, complicated and expensive experience.

How to Read It

We recommend that you use the first three, general, Sections to familiarise yourself with how the legal process works, how to prepare your case, and if you have to go to court, what you should expect and be aware of. Then go to the relevant part to your case in the final Section (Section 4). If you have a case which does not fall under Section 4, the first three sections will still be helpful. Remember that different areas of law, and different courts, have different procedures. This means that not all the general guidance in the first three Sections will be applicable to all types of case. Try to do as much research as you can, using the resources we suggest in this Guide.

The Guide will cover:

Section 1: How to find free or affordable help with your legal problem

Section 2, Part 1: Putting together your case

Section 2, Part 2: Starting and defending a claim

Section 3: Representing yourself in court: On the day

Section 4: Areas of law

Personal injury law

Employment Tribunal

Immigration Tribunals

Family law

Property ownership in relationship breakdowns

Public law and Judicial Review

Housing law

Bankruptcy and debt law

Glossary of terms

We hope this Guide is useful, and helps you to understand how the justice system should work fairly and openly for everyone who comes into contact with it.