British disabled people don’t give up against government

This video from England is called Eleanor Lisney DPAC (Disabled people Against Cuts ). The Peoples Assembly, Coventry 6th March 2014.

By Linda Burnip in Britain:

Happy birthday DPAC – the struggle goes on

Saturday 3rd October 2015

As government attacks on disabled people become more cruel and audacious, the actions of campaigners will only grow bolder. They’d better be wary, LINDA BURNIP warns

FORMED in 2010 at a protest outside the Conservative Party’s first conference in coalition government, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has followed in the tradition of the earlier disabled people’s movement using direct action and civil disobedience for systemic change.

It has grown to become a formidable challenge to the Tories’ austerity agenda, who on coming to power in 2010 implemented a series of cuts and reforms which have fallen disproportionately on disabled people and on public services.

We have also successfully challenged their corporate parasite lackies.

Our sustained campaign against public services contractor Atos began with just a few dozen people protesting outside their London HQ, saw a week of action during the London Paralympics in 2012 in response to their sponsorship of the games (including hundreds of protestors shutting down the Department for Work and Pensions’s head office) and culminated in protests at over 60 offices nationwide in February 2014. A month later Atos withdrew from a £500 million contract to carry out the work capability assessments.

While it has seemed at times a very long five years DPAC is nevertheless going to celebrate its fifth birthday at the latest Conservative Party conference in Manchester and has two direct actions planned in under three days.

In June this year the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) — a fund to support those with complex support needs — was the catalyst for DPAC’s boldest action to date. Members attempted to storm the House of Commons floor during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Without wanting to make the security services or the large number of snipers on the roof of the conference centre in Manchester overly jittery, what could we now do to top that? After all Iain Duncan Smith, David Cameron and the other Tories are going to be safely contained behind a massive steel barricade and have an underground tunnel between their hotel and the conference centre so that they don’t even have to venture onto the city streets.

Conference-goers and other protesters in Manchester will simply have to wait and see what happens.

What motivates DPAC supporters to keep fighting back? Even before the current cuts disabled people faced economic disadvantage and dependency on public services. Disabled people are still less likely to be in work or go to university, to own their own home or car. A significant number live in poverty and isolation and growing numbers are incarcerated in residential care homes and long stay hospital units. Any gains made over the years have been minimal and mainly related to access to public buildings, goods and services and some public transport.

Cuts to local council funding have had a massively negative impact on disabled people as adult social care budgets have been decimated. This funding provides support with everyday tasks such as washing, dressing, cooking and even help if needed to go to the toilet.

During the last parliament, social care budgets were slashed by 25 per cent, with that figure set to reach 33 per cent over the course of this parliament — leaving four in 10 disabled people without any support at all. The closure of the ILF has already seen many councils cut support packages. Transition funding devolved to councils for one year, intended to provide support for former ILF users, has instead been used for other things by cash-strapped councils as the government refused to ring-fence it.

In 2012 alone, almost half a million disabled people lost their jobs. The total number of disabled people who’ve found work over the whole parliamentary period comes nowhere near this. Funds which supported disabled people to work such as Access to Work have been restricted. Of the 1,500 disabled people working with Remploy who lost their jobs on the promise that the money saved would be ploughed into access to work support, more than two-thirds are still out of work today.

But by far the biggest impact has been felt by those claiming social security benefits. Mandatory retesting for every single claimant of all forms of disability benefit has come into force and, when elected in May, one of the Conservative majority government’s first acts was a move to take many thousands of disabled people off disability benefits altogether from 2017.

Disabled people are seen as undeserving of a safety net and will simply be left destitute and unable to meet the additional costs of being disabled. With almost 2 million people out of work, and barely half a million jobs in the entire country, working your way out of this poverty trap isn’t an option for most — particularly when many of the jobs that do exist are zero-hours contracts.

Cuts to disability benefits have been compounded for many by the bedroom tax. Disabled people who received a rent subsidy would now be charged for any “spare” bedroom. This means that rooms used to house specialist or medical equipment (often at the request of health professionals) became a financial liability. Reduced income and rising costs meant many thousands of people have left their (often adapted) homes and support networks and communities, moving to smaller homes and having to rebuild their lives. Others have made a different choice — to remain in their homes, pay the charge and skip meals or sit in freezing cold homes rather than face the trauma of changing homes and re-establishing networks and services all over again.

There are of course too many cuts and reforms to cover here but they mean we must keep fighting back.

Paddy Murphy says: “Disabled people must take responsibility to make change happen ourselves but fighting back is our business, and business is good.”

Linda Burnip is a disabled activist with campaigning group Disabled People Against Cuts.

6 thoughts on “British disabled people don’t give up against government

  1. Pingback: Pro-refugee, disabled, other people demonstrate against British government in Manchester | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Wednesday 4th November 2015

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    THE director of a firm implementing the Tories’ welfare-to-work scheme has said he supports sanctioning single parents and disabled people.

    Working Links boss Nicholas Young told the Scottish Parliament welfare reform committee that benefit sanctions had had a “positive impact over a number of years.”

    His firm has a £167 million contract to find jobs for people on the DWP’s Work Programme.

    His comments were at odds with those made by director of DWP contractor Ingeus, who stated that sanctions were a “disincentive” to building trust.

    SNP MSP Joan McAlpine criticised Mr Young’s claims, who said that people were “three times as likely to be sanctioned than find a job.”


  3. Pingback: British government’s war on disabled people | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: British government brings Charles Dickens’ Christmas back | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: British Conservative government’s war on disabled people | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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