Last Wednesday about 40 activists from Disabled People Against Cuts gathered to protest at the Tory party Conference and bring attention to the continuous attacks they have faced for the last 8 years. The activists came from many parts of the country including Brighton, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Berkshire, London, Manchester, Norfolk, Northampton, Preston Stafford, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton, Castle Bromwich and Birmingham. As part of the protest, the tram tracks on Corporation Street in the city centre were blocked.
“Since our first march against Tory austerity cuts in 2010 thousands of disabled people have been killed by the Tory’s policies and mindless cruelty- the action call out reads– Thousands more have lost vital funding for independent living support and are either trapped in care homes or their own homes. Continent disabled people have been refused the human support they need to go to the toilet and instead been left with packs of incontinence pads. Others are being charged into further poverty as local authorities hike up their charges for social care.”
The Wednesday’s action was largely ignored by the media. It is however important to remember that disabled people have borne the brunt of cuts both to their living standards and to the right to live independently in the community following savage cuts to social care budgets and the closure of the Independent Living Fund.
One million older disabled people are missing out on social care funding and it is predicted that by the end of 2018/19 budget year cuts to social care funding will total £7 billion since the Tories gained power in 2010.
Employment and Support Allowance assessments have caused the deaths of many thousands of people through the hostile environment approach to benefit claimants, however, the Tory government continue its policy. What’s more, 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 a private contractor, Maximus who carry out the controversial health and disability assessments.
700 disabled people a week lose their Personal Independence Payments and have their cars removed, leaving them trapped at home and/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 private companies 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.”
“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,” the DPAC spokesperson commented.