Up to 200 people blockaded Regent Street in central London today, Saturday, in opposition to attacks on disabled people in the government’s Welfare Reform Bill.
Leading the action was a group of disabled activists who blocked the street with their wheelchairs. Dozens of supporters organised by UK Uncut and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) quickly followed them.
“One in five disabled people face losing the Disability Living Allowance,” explained Lisa, one of the protesters in the road. “That’s the money we need to pay for things like care and wheelchairs.”
John McArdle from the Black Triangle campaign had travelled down from Scotland to join the protest.
He told Socialist Worker, “The government is determined to push its reforms through, despite opposition and empirical evidence in the Spartacus review.
“They are picking on those who they see as the least able to fight back. So we are here to demand our human rights and our dignity.”
Luke and Izzy from south London were among the many people without disabilities who came to support the action.
“The people who caused the crisis are the bankers,” said Luke. “It’s disgusting to see the government going after the disabled and the unemployed.”
The Welfare Reform Bill would make life for Britain’s 3.2 million disability welfare claimants harder. It would impose a regime of constant testing and stricter conditions that would take money away from the terminally ill.
The government hopes that this will remove at least half million claimants from receiving Disability Living Allowance.
“Neither the government nor the opposition seem at all bothered about the billions lost in tax avoidance,” said Linda Burnip from DPAC. “Yet they are happy to continually attack disabled people, pushing them further and further into poverty.”
The bill is set to return to the House of Commons on Wednesday. Tory ministers have pledged to overturn amendments from the House of Lords that tone down a few of the most shocking attacks.
This could take several months – and disabled people have shown that they are determined to fight back.
Go to www.dpac.uk.net for details of further protests