Thursday, 20 October 2011

Support disabled people fighting cuts and abuses!

[From Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts]

Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts (BDPAC) is a local group of disabled people and allies established to oppose the cuts and privatisation of our public services and welfare state.

We reject the demonisation of benefit claimants by mainstream politicians and media, as well as distinctions between the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ poor. When benefit fraud is less than 1% of the total revenue lost due to tax evasion and avoidance (leaked Treasury documents in 2006 estimated the so-called tax gap at between £97 and £150 billion), we refuse to accept any of the Government’s austerity measures which target the poor whilst leaving the wealthy unscathed.

The government is reassessing every claimant on IB/ESA in an attempt to reduce the benefit bill. They have set an arbitrary target of moving one million disabled people off benefits, and are paying a private company called ATOS £100 million per year to carry out the assessments, which have been found to be severely flawed. The welfare bill will be reduced by moving people from £97 per week ESA to £65 JSA, whilst 75% of disabled women and 70% of disabled men are already living in poverty at the bottom end of Britain’s income distribution scale.

We therefore welcome the actions of anyone who refuses to stay silent about the injustices committed by wealthy politicians against ordinary disabled people and our lives, and are pleased to see that there is a protest being held in Brighton on Saturday 22nd October called the Hardest Hit to campaign against the cuts to disability benefits.

However, we are concerned to see that one of the organisers of this event is a charity called The Leonard Cheshire Charity. Disability rights activists and groups have long been campaigning against this charity for their record of abusing disabled people in their care. This abuse has been well documented in court and elsewhere. We are concerned that the only interest Leonard Cheshire have in campaigning against Government cuts is a vested one — because they themselves will lose money if disabled people in their homes stop receiving DLA (Disability Living Allowance). In our opinion, Leonard Cheshire continue to undermine disabled people’s rights and consistently act against their interests.

We therefore feel the need to disassociate ourselves from an organisation that participates in the oppression of disabled people. We urge those who want to fight the cuts to participate in user-led, democratic groups.

In these times of austerity, when we are facing severe attacks upon our rights and our lives, it is imperative that we fight for the long-term best interests of all disabled people, which includes independent living and self-determination.

A longer statement is available on the national DPAC website here:

Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts hold regular local meetings, have an active Facebook group, send round newsletters and welcome new members.

Our next meeting will be on Friday November 11 at the Phoenix Community Centre, Brighton. Disabled access. Everyone who wants to fight cuts and abuses, and build a democratic user-led group welcome.

For more information, please contact:

Holly Smith 07927 004714
Jill Goble 01273 705294