New Year Honours: Activist will use MBE to fight government on cuts


A leading disabled activist says she will use the MBE she was awarded in the New Year Honours to help fight government plans to slash disability benefits.

Anne Novis was awarded an MBE for services to disabled people in London. The former youth worker has been campaigning on disability rights for nearly 20 years and is a former chair of Greenwich Association of Disabled People.

She has frequently spoken out about the coalition government’s negative attitude towards disabled people.

In August she lodged a complaint with the Metropolitan police about offensive comments posted on the Treasury’s Spending Challenge website, which were left on the site by the Treasury.

And in November, she reported work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to the Equality and Human Rights Commission after he appeared to use a newspaper interview to blame incapacity benefit claimants for the size of the government’s budget deficit.

Novis said she was deeply concerned about planned cuts and reforms to disability benefits such as disability living allowance and the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

She hopes her MBE might ensure that the government now takes notice of her comments – as a disabled person with lived experience – when she responds to the government’s DLA consultation, as well as the ILF consultation planned for the summer.

Novis – who fostered 23 children before she became disabled – said she believed she would never have been able to carry out her years of voluntary campaigning work if it had not been for the support she receives through ILF.

She is best known for her work campaigning on disability hate crime. Her fellow hate crime campaigner Stephen Brookes praised her “unswerving belief in the rights of disabled people, and her immense work in our task of fighting hate crime”.

She is also a former co-chair of the Met’s disability independent advisory group and leads on hate crime issues for the UK Disabled People’s Council.

She said: “I learned never to accept no for an answer, never ever to give up. Find different ways and different methods, but don’t give up.”

She said the award was a “recognition” of her campaigning efforts and showed the contribution disabled people make to society.

She said: “I have never received a payment for anything I have done but I have contributed to society.”

6 January 2011

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