Socialist Worker

Anger over benefits deaths at TUC disabled workers conference

by Roddy Slorach
Issue No. 2505

Around 160 delegates attended last week’s annual TUC disabled workers conference.

On its first day, a group of delegates joined a lunchtime blockade in central London organised by Disabled People Against Cuts.

The focus of the protest was the deaths of disabled people linked to benefits assessment procedures and cuts.

This was also a recurring theme at the event.

Much of the event was taken up by two question and answer sessions.

Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s shadow disability minister, expressed sympathy for the concerns of delegates but made few concrete policy promises.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell emphasised that the new leadership wanted to “return the Labour Party to its roots as a social movement”

He also said that the new shadow cabinet represented a “political broad church”.

McDonnell highlighted the deaths of disabled people due to benefit assessments as did TUC leader Frances O’Grady, who also addressed delegates.

McDonnell demanded that Tories such as Iain Duncan Smith should be prosecuted for ignoring a series of internal Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reports triggered by the deaths.

Echoing years of criticism of the tests by disability activists and others, Several of the DWP reports had recommended changes to assessment procedures.

Delegates voted to submit a motion demanding the end of the Work Capability Assessment to TUC annual conference.

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