News stories, press releases and updates from Merton CIL throughout 2016
The Mayor of London and London Assembly Elections – Your vote is important, use it!
1st May 2016
On May 5th 2016, Londoners will get a chance to have their say in electing the next Mayor of London and Greater London Assembly members.
There are 1.2 million Disabled people in London and the London elections are a good opportunity to get our issues on the agenda. We remain one of the most excluded groups in the city, therefore it is important that Disabled people take part in the London elections and get our voices heard.
The needs of disabled people and the issues that matter most to them are often overlooked by politicians and policy-makers. In the current climate when, for the first time in the history of social policy, things are getting worse for Disabled people, it is more important than ever that our voices are heard. No vote, no voice.
The incomes of Disabled Londoners fell by 29% over the five years from 2007/8 to 2012/13 – double the equivalent figure for non-Disabled Londoners. Meanwhile Disabled Londoners experience inequality in every area of our lives such as housing, education and transport.
The Mayor of London and Greater London Assembly have significant powers that can address disadvantage and enable Disabled Londoners to participate as active citizens in the life of the capital city. (via Inclusion London)
In this edition we're looking at the Independent Living Fund, cuts to care packages and Merton Adult Education, as well as updating you on all of the new and exciting news Merton CIL has to share, plus more!
Our new hate crime service has now launched and we are welcoming all who have experienced from disability hate crime to get in touch via email or telephone. We will have an online reporting form that will be available soon! Our new hate crime support group launches on August 1st at All Saints Day Centre from 1:30pm until 3:30pm.
Our AGM is being held on October 20th at The Holy Trinity Church in Wimbledon. We hope to see our members there! More information can be found in the newsletter below.
Liberty, Merton CIL and 39 other organisations demand inquiry after infamous security firm G4S wins discrimination and equalities helpline contract
7th Sept 2016
Merton CIL is one of over 40 signatories to have written to the Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Harriet Harman MP – as well as the chairs of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and the Home Affairs Select Committee – calling for an investigation after it was reported that G4S has won the contract to run the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) from 1 October.
Bella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty, said: “The EASS provides expert advice to those who face discrimination – whether refused accommodation because of their race, or sacked from their job because of their age. “G4S has been responsible for countless human rights violations, and the mistreatment and even unlawful killing of people in their care. It’s hard to think of a company more ill-equipped to provide this vital service. “Liberty joins other equality and rights organisations in demanding that this perverse decision be halted while Parliament investigates.”
Read our letter to Leader of the Council, Stephen Alambritis, about our concerns over the recently announced Council Tax consultation planned by London Borough of Merton. We also recently responded to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into the future of Adult Social Care, and you can read our views here.
PRESS RELEASE: Disabled people to be kicked out of community centre by Merton Council and Harris Academy…without consultation
8th Sept 16
Over 80 people with a learning difficulty and their families, as well as the local community, benefit from the High Path Community Centre. Without warning, the land the Community Centre sits on is being sold to Harris Academy.
The decision to relocate High Path Community Centre is another step in a deeply worrying trend by Merton Council of making decisions to the detriment of disabled people, and of making decisions over the heads of disabled people and frankly poor involvement of disabled people in decision-making relating to issues that affect our lives.
The paper version of the survey is in My Merton magazine, which has been distributed to all households or can be collected from libraries and the Merton Civic Centre in Morden.
We will be supporting local disabled people to fill in a consultation form at our up and coming events - Annual General Meeting, Holy Trinity Church, The Broadway Wimbledon, SW19 1SB from 11-1pm and My Voice Matters Venue TBC 11-1pm
Here is our latest action-packed newsletter. We'd especially like to invite you to our annual event My Voice Matters: My Future Matters! at The South Mitcham Community Centre, Haslemere Avenue, Mitcham, Surrey, CR4 3PR on Tuesday 6th Dec 2016 from 11:00am until 2:00pm. There will be tea and coffee provided before hand and a Pizza lunch following the meeting.
Come along to this years My Voice Matters where we will prioritise issues raised and decide what we need to focus on at Merton CIL. BSL interpreters are available and there will be a pizza lunch provided. You can RSVP on our Eventbrite page or just give us a call on 0203 397 3119 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/my-voice-matters-2016-tickets-28528499510
We look forward to seeing you there, and hope you enjoy the rest of the newsletter too!
PRESS RELEASE: 500 Disabled People a Year in Merton Experiencing Hate Crime
12th Dec 16
A new report by Merton Centre for Independent Living and Stay Safe East has identified a potential 500 disabled people a year experiencing hate crime in Merton alone, with only 2% of people making a report to the police.
Merton's Vulnerable Adults Need Your Vote via Merton
14th Dec 16
Merton Council is consulting residents on cuts to council services. The big question is whether to increase Council Tax by 3.99% to raise £3million to protect council services against the worst of up to £20million cuts that are coming down the line. Half of this £3million would be spent solely on Adult Social Care, providing critical services for the most vulnerable members of our community.
As a member of one of Merton's community organisations, more than most, you understand the need for quality council services. Cuts affect everyone, the more vulnerable members of our community most of all. The Leader of the Council, Cllr Stephen Alambritis, has committed himself to implementing the outcome of the consultation. But unless we tell him what we want, it will not happen.
This is Britain in 2016. We are not an impoverished country. We can afford to spend a little more to protect essential services, for our elderly, for the infirm, for those with physical or mental disability, for our chlldren, for everyone. A 3.99% increase in council tax costs the equivalent of half a pizza, once a month. It will raise £3million for essential services. If you have already registered your vote, then thank you. If not, just click on the "Vote Now" button and with one minute of your time you can tell Merton's Councillors that you care.
The "Vote Now" button takes you to Merton's online voting. Once you click on it, if you are short of time, scroll down to Next, skip to the Post Code screen and enter it, then skip through to the 'Increase my Council Tax' screen, check the box, click on Next, and you are done. Then please forward this email to your friends and family living in Merton.
Merton CIL raise significant concerns over Council spending plans
14th Dec 2017
Merton CIL have sent an in-depth response to Merton Council's 'Council Tax and Council Spending Consultation'. In summary, our findings are that disabled people in Merton are finding it extremely difficult to live independently due to cuts to Adult Social Care, particularly when combined with cuts in other areas of their lives too. Council plans for the year ahead, including further cuts, risk tipping disabled people into crisis. In addition, the consultation process has been divisive and undermines the relationship between disabled people and the Council.
One of our volunteers has written a thoughtful piece for us on recent events...
"The torture is over, the US Presidential Election which has lasted for an eternity it seems, has ended. Donald Trump has unexpectedly won the Presidential Election. Now that the campaign and all the rhetoric that has come along with have come to a close, we’ll look at what it might mean for disabled people in the US."
Press Release: Merton Communities Support Local Disabled People and Older People
Over 80 per cent of Merton residents have called for Merton Council to make Adult Social Care their number one spending priority following a recent consultation. After last year’s devastating cuts to services for disabled people and older people in Merton, this result is testament to local people’s desire to see the Council live up to its “July Principles”.
The people have spoken, it is now up to the Council to implement the outcome of the Borough’s biggest consultation in recent years, said Merton Centre for Independent Living (Merton CIL).
The publication of the consultation results shows that residents have chosen to overwhelmingly support services for disabled people and older people, and for an increase in Council Tax to provide these services.
“We welcome this outcome. At times it can feel very lonely when talking to the local authority about the crisis facing local disabled people. However, this consultation shows that our local communities listen to and understand our concerns. We hope that Merton Council will now listen to the voice of the people and feel empowered to prioritise spending on essential services for disabled people and older people in Merton” said Lyla Adwan-Kamara, CEO of Merton CIL
Traditionally, local councillors have felt that top priority issues are street cleanliness and waste collection, but local residents have clearly said that actually, social care services for older people and disabled people, as well as services for children, are more important. In fact, over three quarters of residents have supported the need to increase Council Tax in order to keep local services, especially social care, viable. Nearly half of residents supported a maximum increase of 3.99%, which is equivalent to about 12 pence a day for the average household.
These results are particularly important because Merton is one of only a handful of local authorities who didn’t increase Council Tax this year to support Adult Social Care services, despite an emerging nation-wide crisis in social care. The results are also important because at times the messaging around the consultation, and the emergence of a rival consultation, was pretty divisive and seemed aimed at encouraging local residents not to support a Council Tax increase.
Merton CIL will be closed from 3pm on Friday 23rd December 2016 and normal working hours will commence from Tuesday 3rd January 2016. Please email or leave voicemails in the meantime and we will get back to you upon opening.
Please see the information below for other places you can contact over the holiday period:
Citizens Advice: 0344 243 8430 between 10.00am-4.00pm Monday to Friday excluding holidays. This is charged at your normal rate for calling an 01 or 02 numbers and will be included within any inclusive minutes in a mobile contract. Shelter: 0808 800 4444 Shelter's free helpline is open 8am – 8pm on weekdays and 8am – 5pm on weekends, 365 days a year. Samaritans: are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This number is FREE to call. 116 123 London Borough of Merton 020 8274 4901 Out of hours services: emergency out of hours line (when the council offices are closed): 020 8543 9750. An out of hours Social Services standby service is available on 020 8770 5000. Friday 23 December - Building closed to the public from 12pm Saturday 24 - Tuesday 27 December - Closed Wednesday 28 December - Open 9am - 5pm Thursday 29 December - Open 9am - 5pm Friday 30 December - Open 9am - 5pm Saturday 31 December re opens Tuesday 03 January - 9am – 5pm