Message from the Invisible: scrap the Welfare Reform Bill!

Posted on Fri 20th Jan 2012, 6:41pm

Facebook event »

On Saturday 28th January in central London, a group of disabled, sick and elderly people are going to engage in a daring and disruptive act of civil disobedience, and they’ve asked for our support. Meet at 11.30am at Holborn tube station with a charged Oyster card, ready to travel to a secret location. Look here for accessibility information, and here for the press release.

Britain isn’t perfect. But our welfare state offers something that everyone can be proud of. It’s a comforting thought that if tomorrow you lost your job, your home or even a limb, society would be there to help you through it.

At least until now. The government’s Welfare Reform Bill is just weeks away from becoming law and is the biggest threat the welfare state has faced in its history.

The Bill will take vital lifelines from the most vulnerable people in society. Right now, 500,000 families stand to lose their homes. Others will become imprisoned in them. Half a million will lose their disability allowance, including disabled children. People with terminal illnesses will be forced into work, and 3.2 million will be put through cruel tests that are pushing some to take their own lives. Millions of people – pensioners, low waged workers, the disabled, sick and unemployed – will fall deeper into poverty.

The government’s excuse for all this? The deficit, of course. Yet it continues to turn a blind eye to the £25 billion in tax dodged by corporations and rich individuals every year, a sum greater than the projected savings of the entire Welfare Reform Bill. Vodafone’s brand new £2bn tax dodge alone could pay for all of the cuts to Disability Living Allowance, which affects 500,000 people.

Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Co. are choosing to inflict suffering on sick and disabled people rather than tackle rich tax dodgers, because they think the poor and vulnerable are invisible - that they won’t or can’t make a fuss - and the rest of us don’t care.

On Saturday 28th January, let’s show them that they’re wrong. A group of disabled, sick and elderly people are going to engage in a hugely daring and disruptive act of civil disobedience, and they’ve asked for our support.

Meet at 11.30am at Holborn tube station with a charged Oyster card, ready to travel to a secret location. The government are going to discover that the vulnerable can be very visible indeed, and that the rest of us do care.

The Lords have already shot down some of the government’s most damaging proposals. Our aim now is to shame the government into withdrawing the bill completely and instead create a welfare system that protects us all. Let’s make sure everyone knows that Cameron would rather make millions of sick and disabled people’s lives a misery than collect the tax from his millionaire mates.

See you at Holborn.

“Yes, disabled people will be among the hardest hit by these cuts, but they will also hit back the hardest.”

Thank you to everyone who pointed out problems with the accessibility of this action. We’ve tried to change some things to make the event more accessible and inclusive. We’ll also try and build these lessons into planning for future actions. Disabled people have been leading the battle against the Welfare Reform Bill, as they will be on Saturday.

Guest post: Last chance to save Disability Living Allowance

Posted on Mon 16th Jan 2012, 4:25pm

This is a guest post by Lisa Egan, who tweets as @lisybabe

"Yes, disabled people will be among the hardest hit by these cuts, but they will also hit back the hardest."

Last week’s votes in the House of Lords in which the government were defeated 3 times in their plans to make Britain a crueller place were an outstanding success for this country’s disability rights activists. The Uncut community helped make this happen by tweeting and emailing peers telling them that dismantling state assistance for people unable to work was not acceptable.

We need your help again.

Tomorrow, the Lords will vote on amendments to preserve Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The most glaring fact that you need to know is this: They plan to cut the Disability Living Allowance budget by 20% despite the fact that only 0.5% of claims are fraudulent. This means that one in every five genuine DLA claimants will be losing out on money we depend on to get by.

Despite what you’ve probably read in the papers; DLA is not an out-of-work benefit. If you need to use a wheelchair to get around or you need help to get out of bed; those needs don’t go away because you’ve got a job so the money to pay for that help doesn’t go away either.

As a manual wheelchair user who gets the care component for supervision because of my unfortunate habit of doing things like snapping a rib when I bend down to pick something up: I’m set to lose everything. I honestly don’t know how I’ll be able to cope without that small amount of support. The government keep saying that the reforms are about “making work pay,” but as DLA is what enables many disabled people to work, these cuts will force a lot of people out of the workplace.

What you can do

We need you to email and tweet at Lords tonight, particularly Lib Dems and Crossbenchers, so that their inboxes are full before the votes on DLA tomorrow. You can find a list of the email addresses of all Lords below and a list of all Lords on Twitter here.

Ask them whether they are comfortable destroying disabled people's lives for the sake of £1.2bn in savings when the country continues to lose up to £120bn in tax avoidance and evasion each year.

Ask them whether they have read Responsible Reform AKA #spartacusreport: A piece of research published last week which proved that the Department for Work and Pensions misled the Commons and the Lords by suggesting disabled people approved of the reform. All Lords have received a printed copy of the report, but it won’t hurt to email them the link in case they’ve left their copy on a train or something.

Ask them whether they are aware of the devastating consequences of taking benefits from people that need them.

Finally, ask them why disabled people should pay the price for a crisis caused by the greed and recklessness of the banks.

If you need any more information about the DLA to PIP planned changes, please see below and have a read of Deborah’s excellent piece. And then please, please, please act. Email the Lords, then send a few tweets too. And if you happen to be free on Tuesday afternoon please attend the vigil outside the House of Lords to remind them when they go in to vote that British people will not tolerate making innocent disabled people pay for a financial crisis we didn’t cause.

Email addresses of all Lords using email (send a bcc email):;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

More on DLA:

There are 2 components to DLA: Care and Mobility. The mobility component is paid at 2 rates:

  • Low Rate: This is mainly for people with learning difficulties, mental health problems or visual impairments who need human help getting around outside the house because they may get lost easily, etc
  • High Rate: This is for people who are unable or virtually unable to walk
The care component has 3 different rates:
  • Low Rate: This is for people who need help with things like cooking, getting out of bed and other personal tasks a lot – but not all – of the time
  • Middle Rate: This is for people who need help all of their waking hours
  • High Rate: This is for people who need assistance 24/7

These reforms plan to change the name of the benefit from DLA to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). They then plan to achieve the 20% budget cut by:

  • Abolishing the Low Rate Care Component: this means that everyone who needs help “merely” most of the time will lose their support
  • Removing the Mobility Component from manual wheelchair users
  • Increasing the time between onset of condition and being able to claim from 3 months to 6 months

Also missing from the draft criteria is any mention of the need for supervision for safety reasons. A lot of people get the care component of DLA for that reason including people with conditions like brittle bones, epilepsy and mental health problems.

Guest post: How to warm-up in 10 easy steps

Posted on Thu 12th Jan 2012, 12:00pm
This is a guest post from Fuel Poverty Action

On Friday 27th until Monday 30th January, Fuel Poverty Action are staging a weekend of Winter Warm-ups where we will be coming in from the cold, to the warm offices of those resposible for fuel poverty. Across the country we will challenge the collusion between the government and the energy companies who are profiting from people freezing this winter. Here’s a step by step guide to planning a Warm-up in your local area…

1. Who is affected… Fuel poverty disproportionately affects young children, pensioners, people suffering from illnesses, disabled people, students and others on low incomes. Think about contacting mothers & toddler groups, pensioners’ groups, student organisations, disability groups, residents associations, tenants associations. Before you plan your warm-up, it’s a good idea to chat with some of these people and discuss the idea of a warm-up with them. See what they think of the idea, whether it’s something they’d like to help plan or participate in, and what they’d like to get out of a warm-up.

2. Find a group of people who want to plan a warm-up together. This can be anything from a group of people fed up with extortionate energy bills, a group of friends, a coalition of people from different groups, an existing group such as an anti-cuts group or environmental organisation, or a combination of any of these! A really successful warm-up can be planned by a few people with a spare few hours, so don’t worry if you don’t have masses of people!

3. Choose a place to warm-up… Fuel poverty is being driven by the collusion of the government, public and private landlords, and energy companies. These institutions are ensuring that private profits and cuts are being prioritised over people’s rights to warm homes, a safe environment and a say in where our energy comes from. We can challenge the government, the Big Six, and housing providers by warming-up in the toasty buildings that house them. Possible targets include town halls, council offices, housing associations, government departments, the offices of the Big Six and cultural and sporting venues sponsored by the Big Six.

4. Inside or outside… You need to decide whether you want your warm-up inside or outside your target. Getting inside and occupying is a powerful way of challenging the power of your target, as we’ve seen with UK Uncut actions against tax-dodging corporations across the country. But before you decide to warm-up inside, your group needs to have a discussion about what people feel comfortable with. It’s also a good idea to have a plan for how to respond if the police turn up and ask you to leave, so decide beforehand whether you want to stay, or all leave together if asked. (For activist legal info, see The presence of the local paper and a photographer can make all the difference, too! You can also warm-up outside! Chilly weather can be got around with blankets, hot water bottles, flasks of tea, tents (maybe even a campfire of burning energy bills!) and you’ll be in a great position for leafleting and talking to the public.

5. Location location location… If you want to be outside your target, then think about where you want to be: do you want to be in front of the doors, or do you want to be out of the way but still visible? If you want to get inside your target, you need to think about how to do this. It’s a good idea to check out your location beforehand to work out how to go about getting where you want to be. You need to think about questions such as: are doors locked or controlled by swipe-cards? Are there security guards? How can you get inside? If you want to stay for a long period of time, how can you do this and what provisions will you need?

6. Choose a meeting-point to advertise publically… If you want to advertise your event publically and you’re planning to warm-up inside, then you need to think about how to do this without being stopped. One way to do this is to arrange an easy meet up point somewhere away from but nearby to your target like a train station or public landmark. If you do this, then you might want to have a plan for moving people from the meet-up point to your target, such as having flags or music to follow. You still might want to consider this if you’re planning to warm-up outside, although it is unlikely that you will be stopped from assembling outside a building.

7. Think about what you want to do while you’re warming-up… It’s great to include a visual or theatrical element such as destroying energy bills, huddling together to warm each other up, giving yourselves frozen blue lips and white faces, clutching flasks of tea and hot water bottles and blankets…Also, warm-ups are a fantastic opportunity for public meetings to discuss the problems raised by high energy bills in your area, to give people a chance to speak out about their bills and how cold their homes are, to draw up a local campaign plan, to form a new Fuel Poverty Action group and to discuss visions for a new just and sustainable energy system. You might decide that you want to come up with a public statement or a set of demands in your warm-up? You can use the Occupy movement’s human microphone method. This works with big crowds and when you lack a megaphone. It involves repeating whatever the person speaking is saying as a group so that everyone hears it. Alternatively, just use a megaphone or portable amp. It’s up to you, so get creative!

8. Publicity… A really successful warm-up can be organised by a small group without further participants on the day. But, if you’ve got the time to publicise your warm-up, the more people you get along, the better. So, if you can, publicise your warm-up far and wide! Make a leaflet (you can find a template on our website) and distribute it in public places, at other demonstrations and anywhere you think there will be cold and up for it people! Get posters up everywhere: pubs, cafes, public spaces and social centres! Spread the word round all the relevant email lists you can think of! Make a Facebook event and share this widely! Set up a Twitter account and start Tweeting about your warm-up! Go to other groups’ meetings to talk about your plan and get them involved. Obvious groups to link up with are anti-cuts groups, student organisations, environmental groups and any relevant campaigning groups or networks in your area. Also, email to let us know about the warm-up you are planning and we will publicise it too!

9. Media… Try and compile a list of local media contacts that you think would be interested in covering your warm-up. If you think that your warm-up is something that national media would be interested in, email for some contacts. The really important thing to do is to email a press release and photographs of your warm-up out to your media contacts immediately after your warm-up is finished. If you would like a press release template for your warm-up, email and we’ll send you one. If you’ve got the time, it’s also a good idea to send a press release out a few days before the action. This can be a lot briefer and simply include the key details of your action – date, time, meet-up place, contact details for questions and a short blurb (but obviously if your target is secret – just give the meet-up place!) It’s also good to follow up this prior press release by ringing around the contacts you’ve sent it to in order to check they received it, to answer any questions they might have and to find out whether they will be sending reporters or photographers to the warm-up. You might want to consider agreeing on a media spokesperson to talk to journalists whilst the warm-up is happening, and it’s definitely worth agreeing on some key messages to convey to the media. It’s also worth buying a new cheap phone and setting up a new email account to be used for media contact details as it’s can be better to avoid giving journalists your personal details. For more useful media tips, see

10. Afterwards… A warm-up will be a great opportunity to make links with people who want to start taking action on fuel poverty. So make sure that you collect the contact details of all that attend. Why not arrange a follow-up meeting for people to debrief and reflect upon how the warm-up went and, hopefully, to think about how a more permanent group or campaign could be built.

Facebook event:

Facebook page:

Twitter: @FuelPovAction

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