This is an official press release from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).
Disabled campaigners responsible for previous high-profile protests against cuts are holding a national day of action to protest against disability benefit changes on Wednesday 13th July 2016.
Protests will be held up and down the country outside assessment centres used by Atos and Capita, the private companies who hold contracts with the Department for Work and Pensions to test Disabled people’s eligibility for benefits.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the replacement benefit for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults. Disabled people face on average an extra £550 per month unavoidable expenditure as a result of being Disabled.
DLA was a non-means tested benefit intended to cover these extra costs in order to enable Disabled people to live life on more even terms with non-Disabled people, including being able to work.
The replacement benefit PIP aims to cut drastically entitlement: in June 2010 George Osborne announced a target to cut the DLA budget by 20% through the introduction of PIP. Despite a public u-turn in March over changes to PIP entitlement concerning aids and appliances following the resignation of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, hundreds of thousands of Disabled people will still be affected and between 400 and 500 adapted cars, powered wheelchairs, and scooters are being taken away from Disabled people every week. As a result Disabled people are being left in desperate situations, isolated and frightened for their futures.
On top of this, the private firms running the PIP assessments have both been hit by scandals, meanwhile failing to meet basic performance targets. Capita faced calls to be stripped of its contract for PIP following a Channel Four Dispatches expose earlier this year.
A spokesperson from DPAC said: “We are constantly being contacted by people who used to received DLA now found ineligible for PIP and are in desperate situations, many of them suicidal or parents besides themselves with anxiety about the future for their Disabled children. That Disabled people should be left unable to meet their basic needs in the fifth richest country in the world is truly disgraceful.”
A spokesperson from Winvisible said: “Atos and Capita are making a killing from killing us, hitting jobseekers with sanctions, making families homeless, and forcing mums and kids to rely on food banks. Given the increased racism generated by Brexit, those of us with disabilities who are also immigrant, Black and or Muslim fear that we will targeted both on the street and when we apply for PIP.”
The day of action has been called jointly by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Mental Health Resistance Network and WinVisible (women with visible & invisible disabilities). There will be protests in at least 16 towns and cities from Brighton to Glasgow, and in central London, alongside an online protest involving a mass complaint to MPs and twitterstorm directed at Atos and Capita and the Department for Work and Pensions.