Disability rights campaigners have announced plans to converge on the Tory Party Conference, in a bid to highlight the “hostile environment” faced by disabled people in Britain and the devastating impact of cruel social security cuts.
Protest group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) will host a peaceful protest at the Tory Conference in Birmingham on Wednesday 3 October, pledging to “highlight the plight of disabled people” and how benefit cuts have reportedly pushed some vulnerable people into taking their own lives.
DPAC was formed by a group of disabled people from the West Midlands after the 3rd October 2010 mass protests against cuts in Birmingham. That year saw the first mass protest against austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people. It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest.
DPAC say they are on the side of everyone who believes that disabled people should have full human rights and equality.
“It is for everyone that refuses to accept that any country can destroy the lives of people just because they are or become disabled or have chronic health issues”, they state on the group’s website.
A DPAC spokesperson said: “After years of enduring many thousands of disabled people being driven to their deaths prematurely by the hostile environment the Tories have created, we know we must still fight back or be crushed.”
DPAC say on their website (as quoted):
- 1 million older disabled people are missing out on social care funding and figures from the annual ADASS survey suggest that by the end of 2018/19 cuts to social care funding will total £7 billion since 2010. Councils are facing bankruptcy.
- Employment and Support Allowance assessments have caused the deaths of many thousands of people through the hostile environment approach to benefit claimants. Coroners have warned the government that is happening and yet they continue with this atrocious policy.
- A study by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that the Department for Work and Pensions is handing over £1.6bn over the next three years to private contractor, Maximus who carry out the controversial health and disability assessments
- 700 disabled people a week have lost Personal Independence Payments and had their cars removed leaving them trapped at home or unable to work. Some have also had wheelchairs and mobility scooters repossessed.
- The total payout for Atos and Capita who carry out these assessments saw a 19% increase on 2016’s figures, as the DWP spent its highest amount on PIP since its launch in 2013. The figures came after The Press Association revealed in 2017 that Atos and Capita were set to be paid more than £700 million for their five-year contracts –against an original estimate of £512 million – prompting accusations that the DWP were “rewarding failure.”
- Disabled people receiving state benefits have been hit with 1 million sanctions in less than a decade, while a comprehensive analysis of the treatment of unemployed disabled claimants shows they are up to 53% more likely to be sanctioned than claimant who are not disabled.
The announcement comes as Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey MP, accused groups like DPAC and others of “peddling fake news” about benefit cuts on social media and elsewhere.
In her keynote speech at the Tory conference, McVey claimed: “If you were to believe everything you heard from Labour or read on social media you’d think we were somehow letting down the most vulnerable in society. Especially disabled people.
“However, those who say we are cutting budgets are peddling fake news.
“So here’s the real news – We have never spent more on those with disabilities and long-term health conditions. We spend over £50billion a year, up £9billion on 2010.”
DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip hit back at the claim, saying official spending figures have been massaged to included pensions and carer’s allowances.
“It shows what a sociopath she is”, said Burnip.
“I don’t know how she has the nerve to stand up in front of an audience and say that.”
If you, or someone you know, has been affected by the issues raised in this article and need to talk, contact the Samaritans free on 116 123 (UK) for help and support, or visit their website for more information.[cta id=”276062″ align=”none”]