Tag Archives: Disabled People Against Cuts

Disabled Protesters Bring Chaos To Central London To Say #Balls2TheBudget

dpac-arrest

A police mob descends on a disabled protester outside the budget yesterday.

Disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters brought chaos to central London yesterday at a lively and angry demonstration against George Osborne’s budget.

Whilst inside the House of Commons the Chancellor was slashing sickness and disability benefits by almost a third for many new claimants, outside disabled people repeatedly outwitted a heavy police presence to bring traffic to a standstill in the capital.

The day began in Whitehall where the protest spilled across the street and the Downing Street gates were pelted with balls.  Demonstrators then moved down to Westminster Bridge as a huge banner was unfurled opposite parliament reading #Balls2TheBudget.  Eventually the banner was brought onto the bridge which remained blockaded for over an hour.  The protest received a a huge amount of support from several waiting bus drivers, as well as fire and ambulance crews who were allowed to pass quickly through the blockade.

Demonstrators then moved onto Parliement Square where mounted police were stationed in anticipation.  This didn’t deter the protesters and at one point the banner was stretched across two roads effectively shutting down the movement of traffic in all directions.

Police eventually moved in and began violently shoving disabled people out of the road and seizing the banner, to the horror of many passing tourists.  Four people were arrested, including one wheelchair user, who was surrounded by dozens of police after being carried off the road and forced to wait for almost an hour whilst bungling coppers tried to work out how to arrest someone in a wheelchair.

sadiq-khan

On the wrong side, along with his party, Sadiq Khan couldn’t get away fast enough.

One person who didn’t support the protesters was Labour MP, Sadiq Khan who slithered through the crowd whilst all this was taking place.  Khan, who has wild fantasies about becoming London Mayor, was asked to support the arrested disabled protester as concerns grew over the handling of the situation by the police.  At the very least you might have expected a Labour politician to check he was okay, or offer a message of support to the demonstration.  The sad truth is he couldn’t give a fuck and scurried away as quickly as possible.  Remember that London, when Khan had a chance to show support for disabled people, acting on behalf of the capital’s poorest residents, he turned his back and fled.  The coward is on twitter @SadiqKhan.

Despite the arrests the day was a huge success.  It is rare that a protest called in the morning achieves such a boisterous and defiant crowd.  Something is stirring, throughout the UK, and two demonstrations later in the day – in support of the sacked Sothebys workers, and a ‘die in’ at Parliament Square – were both well attended.

The protest was called by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and supported by Class War, Streets Kitchen, Black Dissidents, London Latinxs, Columbian Women in Action, Occupy,Brick Lane Debates, Winvisible, London Black Revs, Reclaim Hackney, Camden Resists, Never Again Ever and many more.

For a round up including pics and video from the day visit DPAC’s website.

Protests continue over the weekend in the capital with a demonstration in support of the outsourced university workers due to be held today (Friday 9th July) at 1.30pm outside the Royal College of Music.

Then on Saturday the long awaited second Fuck Parade is set to take Camden by storm from 7pm on Saturday night.  Get there early to catch a specially planned warm up event and share the fuck out of the facebook page.

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The Work Capability Assessment Is About To Get Worse, Less People To Be Placed In Support Group Say DWP

wca-review5

Recommendations made by Paul Litchfield in the latest review into the Work Capability Assessment

More sick and disabled people will face sanctions and workfare when Maximus take over running running the despised assessments for sickness benefits say the DWP who have promised the number of people placed in the Support Group is expected to fall.

The department’s comments come in their response to the latest review into the Work Capability Assessment, the shoddy computer based test used to find sick and disabled people ‘fit for work’ and stop their benefits.  Sinister US based outsourcing firm Maximus will take over the assessments from next week after ferocious campaigning by disabled people and benefit claimants led to the notorious Atos ending their involvement with the tests early.

The most recent review was carried out by Paul Litchfield, presumably in his spare time as he is also Chief Medical Officer at BT.  Cutting sick and disabled people’s benefits and driving them into poverty is more of a hobby for this bastard.  Litchfield is very concerned that the number of people placed in the Support Group after an assessment has been on the rise and says this should be urgently examined.  Claimants in this group are those even the DWP agree are too unwell to work and who do not have to jump through endless hoops to prove they are looking for or preparing for work.  It is the only group of claimants who cannot be sent on mandated workfare or have their benefits sanctioned for missing a meeting at the Jobcentre.  Litchfield thinks there are too many of them, and is particularly worried about the number of young people languishing about in homes and hospitals with serious health conditions when they could be stacking shelves in ASDA for no pay on workfare schemes – or work related activity as he calls it.

As Litchfield will know however, young people, or those of any age in the Support Group, are able to access the Work Programme if they choose.  If many of them do not then that says more about the bungled scheme than it does about sick and disabled claimants.  The Work Programme is shit. That’s why no-one volunteers for it.

Another of Litchfield’s worries is the use of regulation 35 (2) (b).  This rule means that people can be placed in the Support Group automatically if there is “substantial risk” to their mental or physical health if they are found fit for work.  This can be done without a face to face assessment and is frequently used – often on the advice of a GP or medical specialist – when a claimant demonstrates suicidal behavior or is at risk of self-harm.  Litchfield seems appalled that this group are not being harassed stringently enough by the DWP.  Nowhere does he mention the growing number of suicides linked to the Work Capability Assessment .  Perhaps he thinks there aren’t enough.

The DWP agree with Litchfield that the numbers in the Support Group are too high and in a frank admission say this is down to more paper based assessments being carried out due to chronic delays that have built up in the system.  According to the department: “Following transition to the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (Maximus) and restoration of the usual proportion of face-to-face assessments it is expected that the level of Support Group outcomes will decline.”

Litchfield must be so relieved to hear that even more sick and disabled claimants will soon be dependent on food banks after having their benefits sanctioned.  He won’t be the only one happy at the news.  Maximus would like to see as many people on the Work Programme as possible, because they fucking run huge chunks of that as well.  No wonder their greedy boss can afford to pay himself $5 million a year.

The Work Capability Assessment is set to get worse.  It is more vital than ever that it is scrapped completely.  Help make that happen this Monday 2nd March with the first national day of action against new contractors Maximus.  Protests, demonstrations and actions are planned in 30 locations throughout the UK and even one in Toronto!  Full details of the nearest protest to you are available in this handy post from Disabled People Against Cuts.  Please help spread the word and let’s make Maximus feel uncomfortable for a change.

maximus-circus

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There Is No Greater Enemy To Sick And Disabled People In The UK Than This Company: Join The Day of Action Against Maximus – March 2nd 2015

BloodMoneyEscalation is the only possible response to today’s shocking and genuinely sad news that a prominent and formerly trusted disabled campaigner has taken a job with private healthcare firm Maximus – the company set to take over from Atos running the Work Capability Assessments for sickness and disability benefits.

Sue Marsh, author of the Diary of a Benefit Scrounger blog, has announced that she will take up a position as Head of Customer Experience with Maximus – who also run workfare schemes – on a salary believed to be around £75,000 a year. This appears to be a shabby attempt by the US private healthcare company to rehabilitate the Work Capability Assessment as the list of deaths related to the brutal process grows ever longer. A well timed called to action against the company from disabled people and benefit claimants today shows that Maximus have wasted their money.  Please help spread the word!

In London meet outside Maximus HQ on at 1/1.30pm on Monday March 2nd. Level 1 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9BU, just round the corner from the DWP.

From Disabled People Against Cuts

Disabled claimants welcome to Maximus, March 2nd, everywhere!

A national day of action has been called on March 2nd 2015 against Maximus, the company set to take over from Atos running the despised Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) for sickness and disability benefits.

These crude and callous assessments have been used to strip benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people after a quick computer based test ruled them ‘fit for work’. A growing number of suicides have been directly linked to this stressful regime, whilst charities, medical staff and claimants themselves have warned of the desperate consequences for those left with no money at all by the system.

In a huge embarrassment for the DWP, the previous contractor Atos were chased out of the Work Capability Assessments after a sustained and militant campaign carried out by disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters. In a panicky effort to save these vicious assessments Iain Duncan Smith hired US private healthcare company Maximus to take over from Atos this coming April.

This is not the only lucrative contract the Tories have awarded this company. Maximus are also involved in helping to privatise the NHS, running the Fit for Work occupational health service designed to bully and harass people on sick leave into going back to work. Maximus also run the notorious Work Programme in some parts of the UK, meaning that disabled people found fit for work by Maximus may then find themselves sent on workfare by Maximus. There is no greater enemy to the lives of sick and disabled people in the UK today than this multi-national poverty profiteer who even are prepared to run welfare-to-work style schemes for the brutal Saudi Arabian government.

Maximus have boasted they will not face protests due to their involvement in the Work Capability Asessments and have even stooped as low as hiring one prominent former disability campaigner on a huge salary in an effort to quell protests against their activities. We urgently need to show them how wrong they are and call for all disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters to organise against this vicious bunch of profiteering thugs.

Please organise in your local area and spread the word. A list of Maximus offices where they provide welfare-to-work services can be found at: https://www.maximusuk.co.uk/about-us/contact-us/employment-work-programme

Maximus are likely to use the same assessment centres as Atos whilst a list of their premises which provide (privatised) healthcare services can be found at: http://pastebin.com/9SYcSjy0

In Central London protesters will gather outside Maximus HQ on at 1pm or 1.30pm on Monday March 2nd. Level 1 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9BU, just round the corner from the DWP.

Look out for online action to be called on the same day, keep an eye on DPAC’s website for details.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

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Vigil to Save Independent Living Fund October 14th

independent-living-fund-vigilvia Disabled People Against Cuts

SAVE THE INDEPENDENT LIVING FUND!

Monday October 14th 2013

Vigil and press call – from 12.30pm – outside front entrance Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Join us in support of disabled claimants challenging the government’s consultation on the closure of the Independent Living fund.

On Monday 14th October the Court of Appeal will be asked to over-turn the decision of the High Court handed down in April that found that the consultation had been lawful and the Department for Work and Pensions had met the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The ILF was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with the highest levels of support need to live in the community. Since then it has helped thousands to live active and full lives.

The government decision to close the Independent Living Fund and instead devolve responsibility to local authorities follows a consultation that disabled people claim is unlawful.

Whereas support received through the ILF has transformed thousands of lives, local authorities are not able to provide the same level or range of support through their current systems. With central funding to local authorities being cut this can only get worse. Disabled people fear that the alternative will bee of being sent against their wishes to live in institutions or surviving trapped in their own homes.

The closure of the Independent Living Fund has major significance for disabled people’s equality and our position within society. Disabled people fought for decades for our right to live in the community independently and with choice and control. The closure of the Fund signifies an end to the right to independent living.

Join us to show support and solidarity to those disabled people taking the appeal on an issue that is importance to everyone who cares about social justice and the rights of disabled people to live independently, equally and with dignity.

Supporters will gather outside the courts at 9.45am and then try to get into the court room. By lunch time we will know if the appeal has been granted, in which case it will be heard over the Monday and Tuesday 15th, or if it has been turned down. Whatever the decision we will hold our vigil and press call at 12.30pm outside the courts in support of the claimants and in defense of the Independent Living fund.

You can listen to how this vicious attack will affect disabled people at these links:

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/a-nasty-cut-people-affected-by-the-closure-of-the-independent-l5142/

For more information about the vigil contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

Travel: the tube stations around the Royal Courts are not accessible (nearest accessible tubes are Westminster and LondonBridge and both are a bus journey away).

Please check www.tfl.gov.uk for more travel information 

Accessible toilets around the royal courts:

–         There is an accessible toilet outside Embankment tube station and inside Charing Cross station.

–         There are toilets opposite the Royal Courts but these are not accessible

–         There are also accessible toilets inside the Royal Courts themselves – see page 10 of this booklet: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/courts/rcj/facilities-and-access/Facilitiesservicesleaflet2011.pdf

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Disabled Protesters Blockade The BBC

Disabled protesters from DPAC, Black Triangle, Mental  Health Resistance Network and others blockaded a BBC building today in protest at the corporation’s shameful parroting of DWP lies.

Ever since this Government weren’t elected ministers like Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Fraud have misused statistics and even lied outright to smear disabled benefit claimants as scroungers or frauds.  These lies have been repeated without criticism by the toadying BBC who have become little more than a spineless mouthpiece for DWP spin.

This has all taken place against a savage backdrop of cuts to benefits, housing and local services which are forcing thousands of disabled people into brutal poverty, homelessness and tragically even suicide.  This side of the story has rarely been shown on the BBC.

Today disabled people fought back, blockading the entrance to their building in Portland Place.  Watch the video above.

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Reclaiming Our Futures: 7 Days Of Action From Disabled People Against Cuts

atos-paralympic-protestfrom DPACOur rights are being stripped away day by day by the neo-liberal policies being imposed on us all by the Condems leaving us without any hope for our futures or our children’s futures.

DPAC say this is not fair, not acceptable and we must fight back against the continuing attacks. We will be having a week of actions nationally and virtually from August 29th and culminating on September 4th with  mass events and actions in London.

Thursday 29th August – launch on anniversary of coffin delivery to Atos, make Crossrail fully accessible protest, plus more….

Friday 30th August – local protests –go to local MPs, Atos offices, schools and colleges that are creating barriers to inclusion..plus more…

Saturday 31st August – disability, art and protest exhibition and gig.

Sunday 1st September –
The Social Model In The 21st Century – Why Is It Still relevant?

Monday 2nd September – Media direct actions, picking up the pace as we come to the end of the week of action, despite everything we do it is getting more and more difficult to get media space to present the facts whereas there is plenty of space given to misrepresentation of stats and government lies.

Tuesday 3rd September – ‘I Dare’ day – to reinforce that we want Rights not Charity and a society where we are able to operate on our own terms as disabled people.

Wednesday 4th September – Grand Finale events in London and public launch of the Manifesto ‘Reclaiming our Futures’

For more info and to get involved visit: http://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/reclaiming-our-futures-7-days-of-action/

Please tweet, share, blog and spread the word!
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Marching Is Not Enough – Boycott Workfare and DPAC Show the Way

Militant actions by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Boycott Workfare were the high points at yesterday’s TUC march which otherwise was depressingly reminiscent of the ever decreasing returns which demolished the antiwar movement at the start of the century.

Union leaders have repeatedly threatened campaigns of direct action or civil disobedience aimed at austerity which have never materialised.  Yesterday hundreds of people decided to ignore their speeches in Hyde Park and take part in the mass shut down of workfare exploiters on Oxford Street or  join DPAC in blockading Park Lane.

The Radical Workers bloc, called by Solidarity Federation, which joined the unofficial feeder march from South London, was well attended and spirited.  Determined and disciplined fitwatching along the route of the march ensured that police intelligence gathering was kept to a minimum.

On arrival at Trafalgar Square a large portion of the march outwitted the heavy police presence and broke away from the route.  For a short period it seemed as if the glories of last year on March 26th, when every bank and The Ritz was given a taste of working class rage, might be repeated.  Sadly this was not to be.

Whilst the mob stormed through the back streets of the West End, hundreds of people were already gathering at Oxford Circus for the Boycott Workfare actions.  As the crowd swelled a samba band and impressively loud soundsystem led the crowd to the Carnaby branch of the workfare exploiting Hilton Hotel chain.  After a brief occupation of the hotel, the fast moving protest moved on to target Primark, McDonalds, Marks & Spencers and the Salvation Army who are all involved in using unpaid labour.

Tax dodgers Starbucks, Boots and Vodafone were also targeted and many stores rushed to close as the protest approached.  Despite some scuffles, and a strong response to any sign of aggresive policing, the day remained peaceful, with just a couple of arrests reported by legal monitors.

Meanwhile the news came through that Disabled People Against Cuts had blocked the busy Park Lane with wheelchair users chaining themselves together to stop traffic.  Whilst some people left Oxford Street to join them, others played a cat and mouse game with police around the West End.  Police attempts to kettle or contain people were thwarted by the speed of protesters, but ultimately it all got a bit messy and confused.  The large crowd repeatedly become separated and groups at times found themselves running in different directions.  Eventually the splintered protest diminished and there are lessons to be learnt.

Whilst the march overall was well attended, the numbers were much reduced from last year’s TUC demo on March 26th.  Marches, whilst great for meeting people, are ultimately ineffective and at worst merely serve to give the impression of consent.  If just 10% of the people who marched passively against the Iraq war had instead blockaded air bases or taken militant direct action against high value targets then the mass slaughter that followed in the Middle East may never have taken place.  We cannot make the same mistake now that the UK, along with the rest of Europe, is being plunged into a neo-liberal capitalist hell whilst the rich co-ordinate the destruction of any last form of meaningful resistance to their greed.

It’s of little surprise that it’s benefit claimants and disabled people who are fighting hardest against the vicious and needless austerity drive.  The so called squeezed middle, who seem to be the only people that matter – other than the rich – to all three political parties, are indeed facing job insecurity or cut backs to their living standards.  For the low waged, disabled or unemployed people, the situation is far more acute as the poorest are scapegoated and blamed for all of capitalism’s problems.

We are fighting for our homes, our health, our kids and in all too many cases our lives.  The death toll from austerity is real and grows every day.  No amount of marching to Hyde Park and listening to Ed Milliband promising more of the same will change that.

Strikes, occupations, blockades, sabotage and direct confrontation are all we have left.  If the trade unions genuinely want a future that works then co-ordinated surrenders, as happened over public pensions, are a betrayal of working class people.  This really isn’t a dress rehearsal, they want to take away everything we’ve won.  The question is do we have what it takes to stop them?

Above pic from:  http://www.facebook.com/boycottworkfare