Anti-cuts groups linked to Scottish campaign Action Against Austerity has launched a week of action calling on the Scottish government to end its participation in damaging disability benefit re-assessment programmes.
The network argues that the process of switching claimants people over from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payments (PIP), which involves reassessing all claimants, even those with chronic conditions, has resulted in almost half of all claimants losing some of all of their entitlement, causing unnecessary suffering to people who are already struggling. Government research [pdf] has shown that, in the course of these re-assessments, 25% of claimants lose are denied PIP payments entirely, while 23% get a reduced rate.
The decision to replace DLA with PIP was taken by the Tory government in Westminster in an effort to cut the benefits paid to disabled people across Britain. The Social Security (Scotland) Bill introduced this week however gives the Scottish parliament a chance to decide how new powers over DLA and PIP will be used.
The SNP government at Holyrood however is set to continue with DLA re-assessments for another four years, until at least 2021, risking the entitlements of up to 100,000 Scots.
East Ayrshire Carers Forum spokesperson Jenny Scott said:
This is a death sentence for people facing these degrading assessments. The utter misery and anxiety they cause has to be halted. It is dreadful news and a huge disappointment for the thousands of disabled people and their carers that this hell will continue.
We expected so much under the new powers but this a real bitter blow. I’m not convinced at all the Scottish government can’t do more. It must.
A spokesperson from Action Against Austerity said:
In addition to demanding an end to the re-assessment of DLA claimants, we demand that the Scottish Government cover the loss in benefits and Motability rights suffered by DLA claimants who have already been re-assessed for PIP, and any who are still re-assessed.
We see this Week of Action as part of the struggle against all the cuts to social security and against the whole austerity programme, which is no less than global class war by the rich against the poor.
We need to organise autonomously from the grassroots to take direct action and resist, and to challenge the whole profits system.
Running from June 23rd-29th, the campaign was unofficially kicked off with a public meeting in Glasgow called by the Anarchist Federation and WestGAP on Thursday, which was held at the Kinning Park Complex and discussed some of the issues around the DLA-PIP reassessments.
- June 26th, Edinburgh: Protestors will lobby and demonstrate at the surgery of Ben Macpherson MSP, gathering from 4.30pm until 5.30/6pm at Leith Library.
- June 29th, Scottish Parliament: There will be a national demonstration at the Scottish Parliament from 11.30am to coincide with First Ministers Questions.
- June 30th, Dundee: A picket is planned at the offices of Joe Fitzpatrick and Shona Robison respectively.
- The Scottish Unemployed Workers Network will also be calling on MSPs asking that they make the best use of the recently-devolved powers.