Disabled activists are hoping to make some noise when they raise concerns about imminent cuts to universal credit in their first direct action since the start of the pandemic.
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is hoping its #AudioRiot protest in central London will help highlight concerns about a series of “devastating” changes to social security.
They are encouraging disabled activists and non-disabled allies to bring drums, whistles, cymbals, bells, klaxons, loudspeakers – as well as their own ear protectors – and anything else that might help to make noise as they protest about the government’s social security policies.
Among their concerns is the government’s decision to scrap – from the end of this month – the temporary £20-a-week uplift to universal credit that was introduced at the start of the pandemic.
The protest, which will gather outside King’s Cross station* at 11.30am on Tuesday 28 September, will also highlight the government’s refusal to offer recipients of so-called legacy benefits – including disabled people receiving employment and support allowance (ESA) – the same £20-a-week increase given to those on universal credit during the pandemic.
Andy Greene, a member of DPAC’s national steering group, said he believed there was a lot of pent-up energy among disabled activists who have not been able to take to the streets for more than 18 months.
He said: “People want an opportunity to come out and have the harm that has been done acknowledged.
“Pre-COVID times there were plenty of people hitting the streets and movements were growing and growing and I would certainly hope that we will give an opportunity for that to flourish.”
He said the government had made decisions during the pandemic that had led to the deaths of countless disabled people and had “got away with murder” because of the months of lockdown.
Disabled people had paid for the government’s decisions with their lives, he said, and there had been very little critical response to that, both from within parliament and outside it.
He added: “They have literally got away with it. History will look back and wonder how.
“There is no accountability. Nobody is holding anybody to account.”
The action will be the first time DPAC has taken to the streets since the start of the pandemic, and it will take COVID-19 protective measures for those activists taking part.
Greene said: “We understand that not everybody will be comfortable going back onto the streets and coming to London for direct action, which is why we will also have online actions, and we are calling for local actions as well.”
On Saturday 25 September, three days before the central London action, DPAC will be calling on members and allies to create an #AudioRiot in their local areas.
And on the day of the London protest, the high court will be hearing a judicial review being brought by two disabled ESA recipients who believe the government breached the European Convention on Human Rights by increasing the standard allowance of universal credit by £20-a-week, but not increasing the rate for 1.9 million ESA recipients by the same amount.
A vigil to support those taking the judicial review will take place outside the Royal Courts of Justice, between 9.15am and 10am on 28 September.
*DPAC has stressed that the action will not be targeting King’s Cross station
Picture: A previous DPAC universal credit action
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