Press release: Disabled activists and UK Uncut plan ‘daring and disruptive’ protest against Welfare Reform Bill

Posted on Fri 27th Jan 2012, 9:00am
PRESS RELEASE: Disabled activists and UK Uncut plan ‘daring and disruptive’ protest against Welfare Reform Bill

For Immediate Release
Tel: UK Uncut Media Phone: 07415063231 / DPAC: 01926842253
twitter.com/ukuncut
Email ukuncut@gmail.com


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.

The target of the action is being kept secret, with UK Uncut calling on people to meet at Holborn tube station in central London with a charged Oyster card, ready to travel to a secret location. They will use social media to guide people to the target.

The action has been organised by people directly affected by the Welfare Reform Bill. Disabled activists from as far afield as Cornwall and Edinburgh are travelling to London to take part. They will be joined by people from other activist groups including UK Uncut, Occupy London and Black Triangle. The action will also be supported by many more people from home, who are unable to attend the protest due to disability or illness.

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.

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."

Laura Miller of UK Uncut said:

“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 government are choosing to inflict suffering on sick and disabled people rather than tackle rich tax dodgers, because they think the socially disadvantaged are invisible – that they won’t or can’t make a fuss – and the rest of us don’t care. We’re going to show them that they’re wrong.”

“Anybody could get ill, have an accident or loose their job. Any one of us could need welfare at some point in our lives. The government are destroying our safety-net. Disabled people have been at the front of the fight against the Welfare Reform Bill, we should all be supporting them because they are protesting 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 - http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&

Accessibility and Legal Information for Saturday

Posted on Wed 25th Jan 2012, 3:00pm


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. UK Uncut will be there to support them. We hope that together we can stop the government’s Welfare Reform Bill in its tracks.

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.

Accessibility information

The meeting point for Saturday is outside Holborn Tube station. Holborn isn’t a wheelchair accessible station. This was a mistake made by UK Uncut and we apologise for this oversight. It is now an opportunity for lessons learned to inform and enrich our future actions, which will hopefully encourage more people to take action against the cuts with us.

The protest will involve being able to travel either by bus, taxi (this can be funded), or on foot/wheeling a reasonable distance from Holborn Tube station. If you have mobility issues and would like to attend the protest, please come to Holborn for 11am. Make yourself known to someone from UK Uncut (they’ll be holding a flag). We will then fund a taxi to take you to a point near the target. There will be people to 'buddy up' with at Holborn and someone to meet you at the other end, so we can get to the target together at the right time.

The protest will also involve being outside for at least an hour. We will try and bring portable chairs and raincoats, but please bring your own if possible. There will be an activist with British Sign Language, although they may not be available all of the time, so please let us know if you need any BSL support and we will try to provide this.

If you would like more information, please email mail@dpac.uk.net with basic access support needed: e.g. do you need support with manual wheelchairs; do you need to be guided from the tube; do you need a ‘buddy’ to help? Send your mobile number to mail@dpac.uk.net in case we need to text you.

Legal information

The fantastic Green and Black Cross legal support group will have legal observers there on the day, checking police behaviour, and giving out advice cards. Here are a couple of things you can do:
  • Take a look at this advice card, and keep one in your pocket on the day. This time, please call Hodge, Jones & Allen if you need a solicitor (07659 111 192).
  • Bring a friend with you, and make an agreement to look out for each other throughout the day.
Now that you’re prepared, we’ll see you at Holborn!

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.

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