DPAC explains why its activists are in the streets reminding politicians of their existence
DISABLED People Against Cuts (DPAC) will be leading a week of action to highlight the cuts disabled people are facing in relation to lack of adequate social care funding, the removal of the right to travel on trains due to the planned removal of guards, and the continuing scandal of atrocious assessments for personal independence payments (PIP) being carried out by Atos.
All of these factors are leading to the further loss of rights and exclusion of disabled people from society.
DPAC’s message is simply that these continuing cuts will not be tolerated and we will not sit back and be excluded.
The Tories who have been responsible for these brutal assaults on our rights must go and we call for a “summer of discontent” until they do.
Since the election, disabled people’s battles and the unjust attacks against us seem to have fallen into oblivion among all political parties.
Once more we have become invisible but DPAC is again taking to the streets, and indeed taking the streets, from now until July 21 to make sure politicians and civil servants are reminded of our existence before they slope off for their extended summer breaks.
Our actions will therefore start with a visit to Parliament today to make sure MPs don’t go on their long summer breaks without being forced to remember the care and support needs of working-age disabled people, which were totally forgotten about in the recent general election.
A DPAC spokesperson said: “Theresa May has promised a consultation on social care later in the year but disabled people battling cuts to essential daily support need concrete action now. While politicians holiday, many disabled people are being left trapped in their own homes without adequate levels of support.”
Linda Burnip, a co-founder of DPAC, added that there are huge concerns being raised by the actions of councils like Walsall where the local authority plans to slash a further £10 million from its social care budget by 2020 and where it is carrying out “assertive reviews” which are potentially illegal to reduce care packages.
There are also cases coming to light not just in Walsall where disabled people have been removed from supported housing and forced into care homes as a way of cutting their care packages. In the 21st century this is totally unacceptable as a means of providing the support disabled people need.
The ability to turn up and go like non-disabled people when travelling by rail is another factor that affects disabled people’s ability to leave their homes and join in with activities most of the population take for granted.
DPAC has supported protests against driver-only-operated trains and is working with rail unions RMT and TSSA to stop Southern Rail and other companies removing safety-critical guards.
Southern Rail plans not only to remove guards from trains in spite of making £100 million profit but has also made a further 33 stations on the Southern network unstaffed. This makes it impossible for disabled people who might need a ramp to be provided to get onto the train or who have a visual impairment to travel.
Tomorrow we will be visiting the Department for Transport to reinforce out right to ride and to deliver a petition jointly collected by activists and unions.
And as if that wasn’t enough many disabled people who are losing their motability vehicles and PIP have also lost the ability to leave their homes as they are unable to use public transport. Although Atos was forced to quit the work capability assessment contract in 2014, it continues to carry out totally discredited and false assessments for PIP at enormous public expense.
Evidence of the widespread abuse of disabled people by Atos and Capita assessors was provided earlier this year to the work and pensions select committee who then had to abandon their further investigations due to the hastily called election. This evidence was collated by Disability News Service which provided nearly 200 examples where claimants assessed by these two companies were able to show that reports produced by these so-called professionals were dishonest. The lack of accuracy in these tests is reflected in the fact that 62 per cent of those who go to appeal win their cases.
Ellen Clifford, a member of DPAC’s national steering group, said: “Atos have had it easy for a while but the way they have been treating people has been with continued utter contempt, so we need to focus back on them as well as the Tories. Fortunately Triton Square is a great place to get together and protest.”