Disabled activists and UK Uncut join to oppose ‘cruel and unnecessary’ welfare bill
On Saturday 28 January, activists from Disabled People Against Cuts(1), Disabled People’s Direct Action Network(2) and UK Uncut(3) will occupy an area of central London in a ‘daring and disruptive’ act of civil disobedience in opposition to the government’s Welfare Reform Bill which is currently being debated in the Lords.
The activists are angry about the impact that the proposed Welfare Reform Bill will have on poor and disabled people. 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). According to their own research, the government’s flagship reform will push 100,000 children into poverty(7).
The government has defended the bill on the grounds that it needs to cut the deficit. However, the activists 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(8). The most recent dodge by Vodafone is greater than the cuts to Disability Living Allowance, which will affect half a million people.
The bill continues to be debated in the Lords, but will have to return to the House of Commons, where MPs will vote on peer’s amendments to the bill. In spite of strong criticism of the bill from disabled peers, David Cameron has already sworn that he will call on coalition MPs to overturn the amendments.
The target of the secret action is not being pre-announced, with UK Uncut only calling on people to travel to Holborn tube station in central London with a charged Oyster card, ready to travel to a secret location. The exact details of where the action is expected to be leaked through Twitter.
Richard Whitehurst of DPAC said:
“These vicious cuts have already led to at least 31 disabled people committing suicide and many more are now talking about it as they feel they have no future. In the 21st century, in one of the richest nations in the world, disabled people should not be forced to live in fear every day of their lives.
Cuts to disabled people’s benefits and services will not save money but will ultimately cost the taxpayer far more as pushing disabled people into destitution and withdrawing care services will lead to an increased demand for NHS care. With the cap on benefits some single disabled people living in London will be left with only £25 a week to meet all their needs for food, heating and all other costs after paying their rent.”
Sarah Evans of UK Uncut said:
“British people are proud of the welfare state because it has provided for the 99% for over 60 years. This bill will remove vital lifelines and force people into deeper poverty, making many prisoners in their own homes. This Bill is simply not needed or wanted by anyone. There are alternatives- we can afford a fair welfare system that provides for all.”
“Instead of taking serious action against rich companies tax dodging and their ‘fancy corporate lawyers’ David Cameron is instead choosing to make the poorest and most isolated pay for the economic crisis they didn’t cause. At least £25 billion of tax is avoided every single year by super rich companies and individuals, far more than the government hopes to save through this devastating bill. The welfare reform bill is cruel and unnecessary and it must be stopped.”
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://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/square/de95/m_civrgt.htm
3 – UK Uncut is a grassroots anti-austerity direct action network. The announcement of the action is available at http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/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 – http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&