Disabled people from across Britain are to protest against the coalition government’s welfare reforms and cuts to disability benefits at next month’s Conservative party conference.
The rally and march, organised by disabled activists from the Midlands, is set to take place outside the conference in Birmingham on 3 October, as part of a larger march protesting against coalition spending cuts.
They will be protesting about government cuts to disability living allowance, housing benefit, and local housing allowance, incapacity benefit reforms and cuts to care. The protest looks likely to draw disabled activists from Scotland and Wales, as well as England.
A second protest – organised by the campaigning network Mad Pride – has been planned for London on Tuesday 26 October, days after the government announces the results of its spending review.
Linda Burnip, a trustee of Coventry and Warwickshire Council of Disabled People, and one of the organisers of the Birmingham protest, said disabled people were “really, really scared”, and wanted to make the point that the cuts would put lives at risk.
She added: “We are fed up with being vilified as scroungers by successive governments, we are sick of hearing about disabled people who have died from neglect and lack of services or who have committed suicide because services and benefits were withdrawn from them.”
She said the protest would ensure that politicians of all parties know that disabled people “will not accept these attacks on our lives any longer”.
The protest’s organisers have asked to meet work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and disabled people’s minister Maria Miller, but have not yet had a response.
Mark Roberts, a founder member of Mad Pride, said he expected hundreds of people to attend the London protest, which will focus on cuts to spending on disability living allowance and incapacity benefits.
He said the government’s cuts would “categorically” lead to an increase in suicides, and added: “There is a strength of feeling. People are absolutely scared.”
He said history showed that people with mental health conditions were always first to be targeted by spending cuts, both in the UK – with asylum patients during the First World War – and more recently in countries such as Romania and Greece.
The Mad Pride protest will take place on 26 October at 1pm near the cafe at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park.
Organisers of the Birmingham protest are in desperate need of volunteer BSL interpreters. To volunteer, or for information about the protest, contact Linda Burnip, tel: 0771 492 7533, email: [email protected] or Tina Hogg, tel: 01989 768195, email: [email protected]
7 September 2010