Press release: Disabled protestors' blocking of Oxford Circus an "amazing success"

Posted on Sat 28th Jan 2012, 2:45pm
For Immediate Release
Tel: 07415063231
twitter.com/ukuncut
Email ukuncut@gmail.com

A group of over 200 people today blocked Oxford Circus and brought the surrounding area to a complete standstill, with traffic backlogs extending for several hundred yards. At 12 o'clock, a group of 20 wheelchair users from Disabled People Against the Cuts(1) chained themselves together in the middle of Regent Street using handcuffs and bicycle locks. They were joined by 200 others who had responded to a call by UK Uncut(2) to meet at Holborn station to 'shame the government into withdrawing the bill completely'(3).

At 2pm, the group of protestors decided to leave together, describing the action as an 'amazing success'. Alex Logan, who had joined the protest at Holborn said "The day has been an amazing success. Together we have shown that we are not going to take the cruel Welfare Reform Bill lying down. We will continue to work together to fight bullying behaviour of the government, which is choosing to make marginalised people's lives a misery while continuing to let rich companies rich companies dodge £25bn of tax each year"

Before midday, while the wheelchair users were locking themselves into place in the road, a crowd of about 200 people including a samba band and protestors from Occupy London and Black Triangle had gathered at Holborn station. They travelled from there to Oxford Circus, which had been a secret target until the wheelchairs were chained in place. Some people had travelled from as far as Manchester, Cornwall and Edinburgh to take part in the action, which was called by disabled activists and others directly affected by the bill.

The protesters 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 government has defended the bill on the grounds that it needs to cut the deficit. However, the protesters point out that much greater amounts of money are lost through tax dodging by the super-rich each year. 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.

ENDS

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 - 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
3 - 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&

Press release: Protesters chain themselves together to shut down Oxford Circus in 'daring' protest against the Welfare Reform Bill

Posted on Sat 28th Jan 2012, 12:11pm
Oxford Circus was completely blocked today as a group of people from Disabled People Against Cuts(1), Disabled People’s Direct Action Network(2) and UK Uncut(3) came together to protest against the government's Welfare Reform Bill.

At 12 o'clock, a group of 15 wheelchair users chained themselves together in the middle of Regent Street using handcuffs, causing a backlog of traffic to build up and bringing Oxford Circus and the surrounding area to a complete standstill.

They were joined by over 100 more people who had responded to a call by UK Uncut to meet at Holborn station to 'shame the government into withdrawing the bill completely'(4). A crowd of people, including a samba band, gathered there and marched together towards the target, which had been a secret until the wheelchairs were chained in place. Some people said they had travelled from as far as Manchester, Cornwall and Edinburgh to take part in the action, which was called by disabled activists and others directly affected by the bill.

The protest comes after a week in which the bill stalled on its progress through Parliament, with many aspects rejected by the House of Lords. Opposition has been mounting 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'(5).

The protesters 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’(6). Nearly half a million people would lose their Disability Living Allowance, including disabled children(7). 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(8). The government's own research admits that this flagship reform will push 100,000 children into poverty(9).

The government has defended the bill on the grounds that it needs to cut the deficit. However, the protesters point out that much greater amounts of money are lost through tax dodging by the super-rich each year. In January, Private Eye revealed a further £2 billion tax dodge by Vodafone, in addition to the £6 billion scam revealed in 2010(10). The most recent dodge by Vodafone is greater than the cuts to Disability Living Allowance, which will affect half a million people.

Rosemary Willis from DPAC said "Maria Miller, so-called Minister for disabled people, has repeatedly stated that we are 'financially unsustainable' and we want to ask this government exactly what they mean by that. We will not let this government push through these changes which have already led to disabled people taking their own lives."

UK Uncut supporter Josie McDermot, 32, said "The welfare reform bill is cruel and and unnecessary, and this protest is an essential way to persuade the government to scrap their plans. It is great to be part of such a broad and powerful campaign against the Welfare Reform Bill and to keep building the pressure that has already been piled on with the Spartacus report.

She added, "It is typical bully tactics by the government to force marginalised people in society to pay for the economic downturn, while letting bonuses run wild and rich companies continue tax dodging to the tune of £25bn"

ENDS

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.uk/blog/message-from-the-invisible

4 - http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/message-from-the-invisible

5 - https://skydrive.live.com/view.aspx/Responsible%20Reform%20for%20screen%20readers.doc?cid=cba86408918caa9e

6 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2011/dec/14/welfare-reform-families-lose-homes & http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16050

7 - http://www.mencap.org.uk/news/article/half-million-disabled-people-may-lose-benefit

8 - 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

9 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/22/housing-crisis-benefit-cuts?intcmp=239

10 - http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&

Press release: Disabled activists joined by UK Uncut for ‘disruptive’ protest against 'unfair and unnecessary' Welfare Reform Bill

Posted on Sat 28th Jan 2012, 10:04am
For Immediate Release Tel: 07415063231 twitter.com/ukuncut Email ukuncut@gmail.com

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”

ENDS

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.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 - 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&

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