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Disability Action

08 August 2012

Minutes of the Meeting of the Disability Users Forum Held on Wednesday 8 August 2012 in Millview Day Centre, Bessbrook

Disability Action



Disability User Forum members: Damian Mc Sorley (Chair), John Stewart, Gerry Murray, Andrew Martin,Kenny Clydesdale, Mark Bennett, Pat Hurley Martin Mallon, Maureen Mc Nulty

Millview Day Centre: Sean Bennett, Eamon Devlin,PJ Fitzpatrick, Philip O Hanlon, John Sheehy, Donald Woods, Anne Kirke, Teresa Mc Cusker,Kerry Mc Keown, Sandra Mc Mahon,Caroline O`Grady,Freda Power, Maureen Smyth, Maria Syddall,

In attendance

     Karen Hall and Karen Graham Disability Action, Belfast


      Gerard Mc Evoy, Rodney Hamilton, Maria Hughes,

      Bernadette McCabe, Jim Corbett, Adrian Fox, Heather Logan


1Welcome and apologies 
1.1Damian welcomed everyone to the meeting and gave apologies for Gerard Mc Evoy, Rodney Hamilton, Maria Hughes Bernadette Mc Cabe, Jim Corbett and Adrian Fox. He also welcomed Karen Graham and Karen Hall from Disability Action, Belfast to the meeting. New members Mark Bennett, Maureen Mc Nulty and Pat Hurley were welcomed to their first meeting. Damian also gave an apology for Disability Human Rights Officer, Heather Logan who had fallen sick the day before the meeting.


Karen Hall recorded minutes before her presentation

1.2Damian outlined the format of today’s meeting by referring to the agenda.Damian
2Minutes of previous meeting 
2.1The previous minutes of the 5 July 2012 were then discussed and progress on various action points identified 
3Matters arising 

Practical actions suggested for day centres for use of the portable loop system

        Space on the table should be made available to pass around the mike for the benefit of a person with a hearing disability. The table should be clutter free of foodstuffs and papers.

        The important thing to remember is that a person with a hearing disability only hears the person who is speaking into the mike.

        When one person speaks, others should stay silent. The person will not hear others who are talking unless they are using the mike.

        If the meeting is delivered by one person, they should preferably have the mike attached to their lapel of blouse/shirt.

        Please check if the person hears you before you do the presentation as the mike could be too low or volume/tone need adjusted.

        The extension and mike leads need to be long enough to be passed around.

        If the leads are not long enough, the tables the group are using need to moved closer to the wall socket to enable the mike to be passed around

        It is useful to test the loop system prior to a meeting and adjust the tone and volume of it.

Damian to feedback this to SHSCT and Disability Action



        If someone with a hearing disability tests the system this is also beneficial.

        Feedback from the Disability User Forum to date has suggested that a notetaker is the preferred option. Notetakers can be booked through Action on Hearing Loss.


Installation of loop in Millview

The loop system was installed in Room 1 for today’s meeting and thanks were expressed to Darren Campbell of Millview Day Centre for organizing this.

Damian to thank Darren Campbell

Testing the loop with the group

It wasn’t practical to test the loop today as the three members of the group who have a hearing disability were unable to attend today’s meeting. In addition, we had a half hour window before the welfare reform/benefits element with Millview service users and the Disability User Forum members.

Continue process of testing loop at further meetings

Dromantine Report

We referred back to the Dromantine Report and `Welfare benefits` was outlined as our key theme today.

        Welfare Benefits




Damian and group

Welfare Benefits

Karen Hall informed everyone that she was contacted by the Social Security Agency. The `Information Event on PIPS` in Dungannon on 19 September`12 has been postponed to the 2 October`12.

The group had expressed a concern that a lot of people are currently being turned down for DLA. Karen Hall suggested that welfare benefits advice workers should be contacted to help complete the forms.

Group to seek advice if required for welfare benefits.

Damian to give PIP event details to group


 Karen emphasized the need to be careful on the form on the language used to convey a person’s disability. 

Human Rights

Damian informed everyone that he will liaise with Heather Logan to reschedule the Human Rights workshop.

Damian/Heather Logan


Damian informed everyone that the accessible holiday’s factsheet is at its final stages. Wendy Lappin is currently off and it will be completed with her when she returns.

Damian to update group on holiday factsheet


Damian informed the group that he will be contacting PPI on the discussions the group had on GP`s and discuss progress on this on this at the next meeting.

Damian to contact PPI re group feedback on PPI

Group photo

As new members were attending today’s meeting, Damian reminded everyone of our agreement that verbal consent was given for publicity purposes. New members agreed to this.

Verbal consent given by new members
4Progress on evaluation points raised at last session 

Community Transport

Damian furnished everyone with a list of community transport providers in the Southern Health and Social Trust area.

Damian to give list to non-attendees of meeting


Karen Hall stated that she would pass on details of a contact she had in Action on Hearing Loss who can inform people about the current numbers of Notetakers that are available.

This follows a group discussion that there were only 3 Notetakers available in NI. Training of more Notetakers had been suggested.

Karen Hall to send contact details for person in Action on Hearing Loss



Feedback on progress on issue reported by  Rodney

 At the last meeting, Rodney explained difficulties he had with Aphasia and that this was impacting on his involvement in group discussions. Damian informed everyone that he had been in contact with social workers Judith Mc Kenzie and Liz Tanner from Cherrytrees Resource Centre regarding this. Judith will speak further with Rodney on his support needs as he is on her caseload.

Damian to inform group on progress after liaising with social work team in Cherrytrees

Publicity of Disability User Forum

Karen Hall suggested sending information to Newry ICT for inclusion on Opportunities For All website to promote group.

Opportunity for All website to be updated

Accessibility of private transport

We also discussed an issue that had been reported by Martin Mallon that private bus companies on the most part have not wheelchair accessible coaches. Karen Hall suggested that Damian look into this with the Equality Commission NI to see if this applies under Disability Discrimination legislation.

Damian to speak with Equality Commission NI
5Presentation by Karen Hall Disability Action on Welfare Reform 

Involvement of Millview Day Centre

We moved to the bigger common room for the presentation on welfare reform

Damian mentioned that this session would include Millview Service Users and staff.


Welfare Reform Bill

The Welfare Reform Bill is not being brought through Stormont till September 2012 but it will be given full scrutiny. Karen informed the group that Disability Action has been involved in a series of consultations on the changes and this process is expected to continue.

Details are not finalized and are at design




Employment and Support Allowance(ESA)

Karen informed the group that there had been changes already to ESA while others still have to be rolled out.

There will be a small but significant impact in Employment Support Allowance but like the other benefits mentioned, independent advice was stressed. There will now be a one year level introduced to assess work related capability. Essentially, if one is assessed as being in a work related group under Work Capability Assessments, ESA will be lost.


 What is Personal Independence Payment?

Karen informed everyone that Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will replace DLA. It can be claimed by 16-65 year olds.

If you have claimed and received PIP before you reached 65 you will be able to stay on it.


Attendance Allowance

If you are 65 you will still be able to claim attendance allowance in the same way as you do now.


Reassessment for PIP

Everyone in the 16-65 working age brackets will be reassessed. If a person is currently on DLA, this change will come into effect from October 2013 to March 2016. The Social Security will contact each person individually by letter or phone. There is a three month qualifying period for PIP and the health condition or disability must be expected to last for a further nine months.


Change in `indefinite life award`

The indefinite life award will no longer be awarded. Those on indefinite awards at present will be reassessed over a rolling process. Awards will be limited to 5-10yrs.



  Even if you get a longer award you may still be contacted during this time to see if your circumstances have changed. 

Claiming PIP when you have a terminal illness

Those with a terminal illness will be fast tracked to a guaranteed payment of enhanced rate of daily living component with an opportunity also to apply for the mobility component


Application process for PIP

After submitting the initial application to PIP, there will be a face to face assessment with a healthcare provider who will then report to the `decision maker` at the SSA.  A person’s eligibility for PIP is from when his/her needs arise and not from when they make a claim.

There will be a 4 weeks window to complete and return the PIPS form. Points will be awarded as before on how a person meets descriptors for personal care and mobility (e.g. preparation of food, bathing, grooming, and moving around) The final criteria are being consulted on by the government.


Universal Credit

A universal credit benefit will be introduced which will replace benefits such as

       Means tested part of  Job Seekers Allowance

       Means tested part of Employment and Support Allowance

       Income Support

       Child  Tax credits

       Working Tax credits

       Housing Benefit.

This will not apply to:-

       Contribution based ESA

       Contribution based Job Seekers





       Pension Credit

        Carers Allowance and Industrial Injuries

        Disablement benefit Allowance.


Claiming Universal Credit

Universal credit will be paid to one person only per household and the focus will be that it is applied for online. At the moment, it is unclear when the process will start.

Those children over 18 living with their parents can claim Universal Credit in their own right.


Universal credit: What will I receive?

Universal credit will be limited to 500 per week if you are lone parent and 350 per week if you are single. This benefit does not apply if someone in the household is already claiming certain benefit such as PIP/DLA. If you have savings/capital over 16,000 you will not be able claim Universal Credit.

Savings under 6,000 will not be taken into account.


Other benefits to be included in Universal Credit

The Budgeting loans name will be changed to Budgeting Advance if you get Universal Credit. The Crisis Loan will be called the Short Term Advance. Costs for Community Care and Crisis loans will change and this support scheme is currently being worked out

The Funeral Payment, Sure Start Maternity grants and Cold Weather payments will become part of Universal Credit.

6Welfare Benefit one to one advice. 

 One to one benefit advice

4 people were given 1-1 advice following the presentation by Karen Graham and

Karen Graham will be dealing with 3 referral
 there were 3 referral appointments made appointments
7Evaluation of today’s session 

Group feedback on welfare reform workshop

Responses from today’s presentation were that people were more knowledgeable on pending welfare benefit changes. They added that the information was delivered by Karen Hall in a down to earth and understandable fashion. The session served to allay fears and uncertainty from the lack of information they had on welfare reform. The factsheet given to the group was also beneficial.

           Feedback to be relayed to Disability Action and SHSCT   

Work Capability discussion

The group also benefitted from discussions on work capability assessments and adjustments that may be required to a workplace if someone is disabled. If someone is in employment under Work Capability, they are still recognized as having a disability. The importance of removing barriers in employment and getting support at the right time was viewed as an important point.

Feedback to be relayed to Disability Action and SHSCT   
8Any other business 
9Date of next meeting 

Details of the next meeting were given:


Wednesday 12 September 2012



Venue:-  Millview Day  Centre

Minutes/Agenda to be circulated before meeting
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