Disability activists stage biggest fightback yet in nationwide week of action
by Felicity Collier
POLITICIANS must not give up on disabled people’s rights amid the “Brexit frenzy,” activist Linda Burnip warned yesterday ahead of a week of action opposing “the endless number of attacks” on people with disabilities in Britain.
Disability activists will be staging protests from today to draw attention to the devastating effects of Tory cuts which have seen the number of disabled people living in poverty rise to 4.2 million.
A national day of action by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) will see protests today outside jobcentres and hospitals.
Ms Burnip, who co-founded DPAC, told the Star: “We’re doing this to make sure that MPs don’t give up on disabled people’s rights in the Brexit frenzy.
“It’s important that we remain visible and our needs are acted upon.
“We usually have a week of action every year, but this year we are opposing the endless number of attacks on disabled people’s rights that multiply and get worse and worse.”
The campaign group is enc ouraging activists to protest outside benefit assessment centres, libraries and town halls up and down the country and write to MPs, with a lobby of Parliament planned for tomorrow.
Illustrating the life-changing impacts of cuts, Ms Burnip gave the example of 80-year-old Ann Pridmore from Leicester, who had two thirds of her disability benefit slashed, losing her overnight care.
“She’s terrified about her future,” Ms Burnip said, adding that Ms Pridmore’s friend who has a visual impairment has had her care reduced by 12 hours a week.
Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty said that “these cuts are an attack on us all, any of us could fall sick or become disabled.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “Disabled people have borne the brunt of the Conservatives cuts, which have seen the number of disabled people living in poverty rise to 4.2 million.”
On Friday, DPAC protested outside the London Stadium, at the opening of the World Para Athletics, to highlight sponsorship by Atos.
The disgraceful privateer profited from running “work capability assessments” when it had a £500m contract with the Department for Work and Pensions. The humiliating tests saw many people with disabilities stripped of their benefits.
Cuts to jobs proposed by rail operators present yet more attacks on disabled people, Ms Burnip said, with Southern, Northern and Merseyrail all planning to scrap guards on trains, endangering passengers.
Yesterday, drivers’ union Aslef called for train companies to be stripped of their franchises if they fail to meet standards for making their services accessible for disabled people.
For more details on the DPAC national day of action go to: dpac.uk.net