For Immediate Release
A group of people from Disabled People Against Cuts(1) and Disabled People’s Direct Action Network(2) will today be joined by UK Uncut(3) to occupy an area of central London in a ‘daring and disruptive’ act of civil disobedience in opposition to the government’s Welfare Reform Bill.
The action has been called by people directly affected by the Welfare Reform Bill. Disabled people have travelled from Manchester and Edinburgh to London to take part in the protest, which has received increasing attention online in recent days. They will be supported by people from other groups including UK Uncut, Occupy London and Black Triangle. The action will also be supported by many more from home, who are unable to attend the protest due to disability or illness.
The target of the action remains secret, with UK Uncut calling on people to meet at Holborn tube station in central London at 11.30am, ready to travel to a secret location. They will use social media to guide people to the target.
People protesting say that the Welfare reform bill is ‘unfair, unnecessary and unpopular’ and are calling for it to be scrapped. Recent reports have shown that as a result of the bill 500,000 families stand to lose their homes while others will become ‘imprisoned in them’(4). Nearly half a million people would lose their Disability Living Allowance, including disabled children(5). People with terminal illnesses would be forced into work, and 3.2 million will be put through demanding tests that have already pushed some to take their own lives(6). The government’s own research admits that this flagship reform will push 100,000 children into poverty(7).
The bill has this week stalled on its progress through parliament, following publication of the ‘Spartacus report’ which was written, researched and funded by disabled campaigners, and which claims that the government misled the public and ‘broke its own code of consultation'(8).
The government has defended the bill on the grounds that it needs to cut the deficit. However, those protesting point out that much greater amounts of money are lost through tax dodging by the super-rich each year, money which could instead continue current welfare provision.
In January, Private Eye revealed a further £2 billion tax dodge by Vodafone, in addition to the £6 billion scam revealed in 2010(9). The most recent dodge by Vodafone is greater than the cuts to Disability Living Allowance, which will affect half a million people.
DPAC supporter Cerys Williams said “Bankers are continuing to reap massive bonuses and over £25 billion is uncollected in taxes. We say that disabled people should not be forced to pay the price of these austerity cuts”
“There are over £16 billion in unclaimed benefits and we have some of the lowest benefit levels in Europe. We question why this government is forcing through further draconian cuts to the safety net of the welfare state on which all of us who are not millionaire politicians depend at some stage in our lives.”
Cheryl Thomson of UK Uncut said:
“This bill is both cruel and unnecessary and is another example of a government choosing to pick on marginalised and socially disadvantaged people whilst continuing to let those who caused this crisis off the hook. The government could collect at least £25bn more each year if they were serious about cracking down on tax avoidance by rich companies and individuals – far more than will be saved by this bill. Instead they are choosing to destroy the welfare state that has formed such an important part of our society for over 60 years.
“The campaign against the Welfare Reform Bill has been gaining momentum and together we can defeat it. I am excited to support such a strong campaign, that has been led by disabled people for many months and that is essential for all of us”
1 – Disabled People Against Cuts is a UK based organisation fighting for justice and human rights for all disabled people. http://www.dpac.uk.net/ | http://twitter.com/Dis_PPL_Protest
2 – http://www.facebook.com/groups/directactionnetwork/?ref=ts
3 – UK Uncut is a grassroots anti-austerity direct action network. The announcement of the action is available at http://www.ukuncut.org/blog/message-from-the-invisible
4 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2011/dec/14/welfare-reform-families-lose-homes & http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16050
5 – http://www.mencap.org.uk/news/article/half-million-disabled-people-may-lose-benefit
6 – http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/latest-news2/medical-test-for-dla & http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/31/consequences-benefit-changes-mental-health
7 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/22/housing-crisis-benefit-cuts?intcmp=239
8 – https://skydrive.live.com/view.aspx/Responsible%20Reform%20for%20screen%20readers.doc?cid=cba86408918caa9e
9 – http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&