The WOWcampaign today launches a new e-petition!

wowThe WOWcampaign today launches a new e-petition to remind the Government that they have failed to honour the parliamentary motion in support of the WOWpetition.

You can sign WOW Petition here!


Today the WOWcampaign launches a new petition on the Government e-petition website, e-petition 1060681. It calls for the Government to “Assess full impact of all cuts to support & social care for disabled people”. The WOWcampaign have taken this action 18 months after the original “WOWpetition” was debated in the House of Commons because little has happened since, save for sick and disabled people being targeted by further cuts.

The “WOWpetition” was debated in the House of Commons on the 27th February 20142 after gaining 104,818 supporters. A motion put to the House, which called on the Government to produce an analysis of the cumulative impact of the Government’s cuts on sick and disabled people, was overwhelmingly passed. During the debate Mike Penning (then Minister for Disabled People) undertook to carry out several actions, including asking his officials in the DWP to work closely with Dr Simon Duffy 3 of the Centre for Welfare Reform to make the Independent Cumulative Impact Assessments carried out by him as accurate as possible. Since that debate nothing has happened. Dr. Duffy has been in touch with the DWP but has not been able to progress his work, and in an email of the 7th October 2014 he outlined his frustrations at the DWP for not being willing to engage on this issue in good faith4 .

It would also appear that Mike Penning MP misled the House during the debate when he stated “the Institute for Fiscal Studies has also said that that could not be done properly and accurately enough.”5. The IFS have stated on numerous occasions that they do not hold that position.6 Additionally, since the WOWdebate, the DWP’s own advisors, The Social Security Advisory Committee, have concluded that the Government could and should provide an analysis of the cumulative impact of its welfare reforms on disabled people7 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, recommended “that HMT incorporates breakdowns of the cumulative impact of tax and social security measures according to protected characteristics into its distributional analysis as a matter of course.”8

Francesca Martinez, stand-up comedian, actress and writer in whose name both the original and this new WOWpetition were submitted, said:

We need to show the new government that their continued attacks on disabled people and carers cannot go unchallenged. We need to show the new government that their continued attacks on disabled people and carers cannot go unchallenged. The cuts have had a devastating impact on a huge number of lives and have left many people fearing for their future. With the closure of the ILF, the disappearance of DLA, the withdrawal of benefits and the disastrous WCA, the basic rights of sick and disabled people are fast being eroded. Anyone can become disabled or a carer at any time so it is vital that we all get involved in ensuring that the human rights of every person – no matter what their ability – are protected. We call for a cumulative impact assessment, and we will not stop fighting until these dreadful cuts, which have already claimed thousands of lives, are reversed.”

The concept of welfare has been heavily demonized through a sustained media campaign which has resulted in a marked increase in disability hate crime and a growing rhetoric of blame towards claimants. We need to challenge this scapegoating, and remember that providing support for those who need it is something to be proud of – and what makes us a civilized society.”

John McDonnell MP for Hayes and Harlington, has revisited the Back Bench Business Committee and asked them to schedule a further debate of the WOWpetition stating

The motion was carried without opposition at the time, but 18 months on, we still have not had the assessment.”

“I led the debate presenting the original WOW petition to Parliament over two years ago but life for people with disabilities has been made even harder by this Government’s cuts. This new petition will highlight the appalling suffering many people with disabilities are enduring still.”

Jeremy Corbyn MP for Islington North, also commented, saying

“I backed the last WOW petition and I back this one because we can’t stand by and let this Government inflict this scale of hardship and suffering on people with disabilities. It’s inhumane.”

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said:

“This government must not be allowed to get away without accounting for the impact of the continuing attacks on the benefits and services that disabled people are entitled to in a humane, decent society.

“The WOW petition had a big impact last time around, and this 2015 version is entering a new political climate, in which campaigners are getting together to fight against the failed policy of austerity that is making the poor, the disadvantaged and the young pay for the greed and fraud of the bankers, and in which the political winds are clearly, finally, shifting after decades of failed Thatcherite policies from successive governments.”

Natalie McGarry MP, the SNP’s spokeswomen for Disabilities, said:

The SNP backs WOW’s campaign calling on the UK Government to conduct a full impact assessment of all cuts to support and social care for disabled people.”

and that the SNP

continue to call for full powers over social security in Scotland to allow us to protect, support and empower people who need help, rather than pushing them into poverty with punitive cuts and sanctions as the Tories are continuing to do.” 

Elin Roberts, Parliamentary Press Officer for Plaid Cymru commented that both Liz Saville Roberts MP and Hywel Williams MP have confirmed that they’re more than happy to support the petition.

Comment was invited from both the Conservative and Liberal Democratic Parties but none was received.


Increasing numbers of disabled people in are absolute poverty, hit by multiple spending cuts.

WOWcampaign believes that the last Government “targeted” sick and disabled people with their austerity agenda, with recently released figures showing 10% more disabled families are in absolute poverty after housing costs (the only statistically significant increase/ decrease contained in the release).9 More and more families with a disabled member are being forced into absolute poverty which, we argue, demonstrates how the Government’s austerity cuts are punishing sick and disabled people.

The impact of the myriad of spending cuts targeted at disabled people, and the withdrawal of support through often unreasonable benefit sanctions, has had a serious effect on the health of many, and may have even affected the life expectancy of sick and disabled people. However, this Government continues to withhold evidence, repeatedly delaying the publication of statistics relating to deaths following the withdrawal of support.

Debbie Abrahams MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth said it “‘beggars belief’ that Prime Minister David Cameron continues to back Mr Duncan Smith’s ‘inhumane’ sanctions despite a ‘mountain of evidence’ that … people are suffering and dying.” 10

We agree, and believe that if this Government is not going to act honorably and discharge its obligations in good faith, then we need to try increase the pressure on them to do so. Hence the new WOWpetition11.


2 Hansard 27 Feb 2014 : Column 423 to 474

3 Hansard 27 Feb 2014 : Column 470

5 Hansard 27 Feb 2014 : Column 470

Posted in News

WOWCampaign’s response to this ConDem Government’s repeated statement that it is impossible to do a Cumulative Impact Assessment of the way the Welfare Reform Act affected Sick and Disabled people, despite evidence to the contrary.

WOWpetition secured a debate in the House of Commons on the 27th February at which here today, gone tomorrow Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning said, “the Institute for Fiscal Studies has also said that that could not be done properly and accurately enough” but agreed to look again in light of Cumulative Impact Assessments carried out by Scope and Simon Duffy at the Centre for Welfare Reform. However, on the 9th April 2014 he had reverted to his previous position by stating in response to a question from Naomi Long MP on whether he will review his decision not to carry out a cumulative impact assessment, that “the previous Government did not provide this type of analysis and that distributional analysis is provided for the whole population on the basis of household income and household expenditure. However this is not disaggregated to the level of household characteristics such as disability status or lower level geographies. No organisation is able to do this robustly.”

Also, Lord Freud said in response to The Social Security Advisory Committees call for a Cumulative Impact Assessment that he did not believe that data available could be reliably disaggregated for disabled people and said this was a view also help by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

However, The Institute for Fiscal Studies have denied ever having taken this position as reported in Disability News Service as follows:
“David Phillips, senior research economist for IFS, who wrote the report, said it was unclear where the government’s view about the organisation’s position on CIAs had come from; He said: “We can’t find anything we have written down saying we can’t do a CIA.”

WOWpetition are convinced that the evidence tends to suggest a conspiracy at the highest levels of government to hide the effects of this governments austerity programme on sick and disabled people. Many people have died whilst awaiting support from this government whilst stressed, humiliated and intimidated, as pointed out by Dennis Skinner at the WOWpetition debate. The Government does not want the public or press to know the true impact of the austerity plan on sick and disabled children and adults. A factual admission would put in contrast how one group are having their human rights attacked whilst another gets tax breaks.

Posted in News

What Human Rights do you think Disabled People should have?

There is currently an exercise going on by which the Government reports back to the UN on how well it has implemented the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). There are also “Shadow Reports” being compiled around the country by user led disabled people’s organisation’s that will outline how well they believe the Government is doing. The UNCRPD was ratified by the UK on the 8th June 2009 before the surge in online campaign groups like the WOWpetition and rather than consider how well the Government has done in implementing this Treaty, the WOWcampaign (or WOWpetition mk.ii!!) is asking what should the UK Bill of Rights for Sick and Disabled People be, knowing what we know now!

What do you think? Tell us at

Posted in WOW Blog

A New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions

Guest post by EdwinMandella


The WOWpetition called for

“A New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions”.

What exactly does that mean? To start off with it means different things to different people depending upon their perspective.

One of my key “hot buttons” is providing the framework for disabled people to “play” as fuller part in life and society as they are able to or able to want to. This Government (and to an extent the previous New Labour administration) has based its entire strategy for dealing with everything on the mantra that work sets you free. In fact, one of the key ConDem messages was that too many sick and disabled people were “parked on benefits” by the previous administration, so we are going to enrich their lives and find them all meaningful work.

The Government started off in 1995 with the Personal Capability Assessment. We then moved onto the Work Capability Assessment from 2007 onwards. This reinforced the mantra that to be worthwhile you have to work. What it never seemed to consider was did the opportunities to work exist in the free market?

Since my accident I have never held a job for significantly longer than 2 years. During that time I have never been terminated with cause. Generally I have been “let go” although I have negotiated settlements with PwC and Cognos. Significantly, in order to achieve senior jobs I have had to hide my disability. I have never come across a company that values or wants disabled staff working for them. I’m sure they must exist but I am yet to find one.

So what is my problem? I wish I knew exactly! I can only speculate. I suffered frontal lobe damage to my brain in 1991 following a car crash. Headway, the Brain Injury Association states that executive dysfunction is common following frontal lobe brain injury and have produced a factsheet, Executive Dysfunction.

I believe the symptoms of Executive Dysfunction that occasionally affect me materially are:

Mood disturbances
  • Difficulty in controlling emotions when under what I perceive as a personal attack, which may lead to outbursts of emotion such as anger.
  • Rapid mood changes may occur. For example, switching from anger to happiness for no apparent reason.
Difficulties in
  • Reduced ability to engage in social interactions.
  • Finding it hard to initiate, participate in, or pay attention to conversations.
  • Poor judgement in social situations, which may lead to saying or doing inappropriate things.
Difficulties with
memory and
  • Decreased memory for past or current events, which may lead to disorientation.

This marks me out as different. I would ask you to consider whether the above dysfunctions would preclude me from senior level finance positions. In fact, would it preclude me from most paid employment, with reasonable adjustments? Being different is rarely an advantage!

These to me are all “soft skills” and reasonable adjustments can be found, but in my defence I am an accountant!

However, I’ll ask the question in a slightly different way? Do you think employers will rush to employ people displaying the above forms of executive dysfunction. I accept there are some enlightened employers, or specifically one individual, which is what in part allowed me to get to be CFO of a billion dollar company in Abu Dhabi but the financial crisis of 2008 appears to have changed that. Why should employers take a chance on “damaged goods” when there is a surplus of available qualified talent in the market place.

The question I pose is, will leaving it to the free market to decide whether to employ disabled, different people, produce the kind of society we promote in public? Why would the free market actively seek to provide equality of opportunity to all?

In “The Wealth of Nations (1776)”, Adam Smith proposed that when the “Invisible Hand”, or the law of supply and demand, operates,  people act in their own self-interest and that through this society benefits. However, crucially he caveated this by conceding that whilst individuals should be able to determine what to produce and consume, it is in our self-interest to have laws that protect consumers from being treated unfairly.

Here we come back to public opinion. Is it in the self-interest of the majority to protect disabled people and provide them with true equality of opportunity? Now do you understand why the ConDem government had to demonise disabled people and label them all benefit scroungers? We now have a free market where disabled people do not count.

This is important because the whole direction of efforts to get disabled people into jobs, let alone satisfying appropriate jobs, is based around convincing society that disabled people are worthwhile and should begiven a chance. That is what the Government’s Disability Confident initiative is about –

“A workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers it serves, and the community in which it is based, is good for business.”

Why not force the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace, and through them being there they can demonstrate their worth? Can anybody honestly say the current strategy is working?

The Office for Disability Issues says:

  • According to the Labour Force Survey, disabled people are now more likely to be employed than they were in 2002, but disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people.  In 2012, 46.3 per cent of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4  per cent of working-age non-disabled people. There is therefore a 30.1 percentage point gap between disabled and non-disabled people, representing over 2 million people. The gap has reduced by 10 percentage points over the last 14 years and has remained stable over the last two years despite the economic climate.

So it all sounds positive? Try now?

  • There is a 30.1% gap between the numbers of working age disabled and non-disabled people in employment. What does that suggest to you? Substitute the word “black” for “disabled”. Does it read differently now? Don’t forget, these are all people that have been found fit for work so any allowance you are making in your head for these people not being as capable as their non-disabled counterparts is illegal discrimination
  • Under  previous Government’s this gap reduced by 10% up until the year the ConDems came to power, but we’ve managed to stop that . In fact, we’re surprised that our policies haven’t managed to reverse this trend given the economic climate.

I have spoken to many people on this subject and the underlying assumption has been in every case that the free market will provide appropriate employment for disabled people. I ask everybody that has assumed that to be true where is the evidence of that? Is it in the same place as the evidence supporting the use of the biopsychosocial model of disability? Where is the self-interest for the free market to provide equality of opportunity?

If we are serious about equality of opportunity and inclusion then let’s do something serious about delivering that. Why would we want to leave something as fundamental and important as this to the “free markets” who took us to the precipice in 2008?

What does a New Deal for Sick and Disabled People mean to you?

Posted in WOW Blog

WOWpetition is Victorious but write to your MP and make it more Victorious.


December 12th, 2013 was, for many of us, a small moment of celebration as the WOW Petition ended with over 104,000 signatures and triggered the eligibility for consideration by the Back Bench Business Committee (BBBC). 


After a year of cajolling, persuading, writing to MPs, campaign groups, charities, anti austerity groups, and many others it had all paid off and, for at least a moment, we could relax and realise that we had completed the first part of what we had set out to achieve.Now, of course, the hard part comes.John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, graciously agreed to present the WOW Petition to the BBBC, which he did on both the 3rd and the 10th of December and, with his and others support, managed to secure in principle a full debate on the WOW Petition in the House of Commons in the New Year, at a date yet to be decided.


So this is, once again, where we need your help.For us to have any chance of success whatsoever, we must persuade MPs of our case and get them to support what we are trying to achieve.  That’s no easy task, but it is vital that we try and this is how you can help us.



Write to your MP.


We need the support of as many MP’s as possible going into this debate and to do this we must persuade them to support us, so please:



Write to your MP 

We need the support of as many MP’s as possible going into this debate and we need to persuade many to support us, so please: 

  1. Write to your local MP (you can find the details by using our  Write to your MP tool) and we’ve produced a couple of suggested template letters  here (outline) and here (detailed) 
  2. Or if you’d prefer to e-mail your MP we’ve put together an automated tool to help you compile and send it here.

Our advice would be to do as much or as little as you feel able to and comfortable with. A cut and paste letter/ e-mail (Option 1) may be the option that suits you best and allows you to personalise your letter/ e-mail to your MP. Our automated tool is a quick and easy way to effectively let your MP know about the #WOWdebate2014 and your feeling about it. If like myself, you wish to make it more personal then by all means please do. We have included briefing notes on earlier blogs so please use them if you wish. I will be writing a shorter letter and then arranging to meet with my MP to discuss it in more detail, but that is what I’m comfortable with.


Continue to Spread the Word 


Whilst signatures may now be closed, every little bit of support can still make a difference to the Campaign. By promoting #WOWpetition on Twitter and Facebook – we’ll be using Hashtag #WOWdebate2014 in the run up to the actual day – we can show how much support there is out there. Let family and friends know what we’re doing and how they can help us.



Other Suggestions?Let us know!  I’m sure there’s ideas we haven’t thought of – we’re only human, after all – so please feel free to get in touch with us.  We’re on the above links or you can email us at


To all of our supporters – thank you for everything you’ve done to get us this far and we look forward to a successful 2014.  Happy New Year to you all.

Posted in WOW Blog

WOW Petition Campaign Bonus Podcast! People’s Assembly Nottingham: Francesca Martinez, Owen Jones

wowv2g Bonus Podcast! People’s Assembly Nottingham with speakers Stewart Halforty, Tony Benn, Will Duckworth, Lindsey German, Francesca Martinez, Owen Jones.

Find out more at

Posted in WOW Campaign Podcast

WOW Petition Campaign Podcast 3:DLA, PIP, ILF, Atos Stories- Peggy

wowv2g Podcast 3 with Rick B @TenPercent, Jane @WOWpetitionchat, Ian @edwinmandella, Juliet @JuJuMarlow Michelle @mmaher70  DLA, PIP, ILF, Atos Stories- Peggy

Posted in WOW Campaign Podcast
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