Thousands of disabled people protest against the cuts

Thousands of disabled people, their families and friends will take to the streets in central London on 11 May on the first anniversary of the Coalition Government as part of The Hardest Hit protest against the cuts.

The Hardest Hit protest has been organised jointly by the UK Disabled People’s Council and the Disability Benefits Consortium. It brings together individuals from across the country and over 40 organisations to send a clear and collective message to the Government: stop the cuts.

The last 12 months have seen a stream of government cuts that could have a significant impact on the quality of life of disabled people as it’s estimated disabled people and their families are set to be as much as £370 million worse off in 2011 alone - Demos.

The Hardest Hit group are disappointed the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP, has decided to not attend the protest and respond to what disabled people have to say about the Government’s cuts.

The Hardest Hit coalition intends to bring Westminster to a standstill to call on the Government to:

  • Scrap plans to cut Disability Living Allowance, a vital benefit that enables disabled people to live independently.
  • Make sure Employment and Support Allowance, which replaces Incapacity Benefit, has a fair and effective assessment process, does its job and supports disabled people.
  • Stop cuts to services that are essential to disabled people’s quality of life, such as day care, transport and respite care services.

Jaspal Dhani, CEO of the United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council, says:

“Disabled people, their families and friends from around the country are taking part in The Hardest Hit protest in central London tomorrow because they are angry about the Government’s cuts to services and benefits for disabled people. Disabled people are the hardest hit and they are coming together to say loud and clear: stop the cuts and protect our rights.”

Notes to the editor:

  • From 11.30am Campaigners will gather from 11.30am on Victoria Embankment by Horseguards Avenue
  • 12pm-12.30pm Rally on Victoria Embankment. Speakers include disabled people, MPs and Jane Asher
  • 12:30pm-1.30pm March. The route will start at Victoria Embankment (Horseguards Avenue), take in Parliament Square and Millbank and finish at Dean Stanley Street.
  • 1.30pm-5.30pm Many individual campaigners will meet their MP in Westminster Hall between 1.30pm and 5.30pm

Journalist meeting points

The recommended meeting point for media will be behind the stage on Victoria Embankment that will be used for the rally. Interviewees will be available from 11.30am.

There will be further opportunities for interviews along the route and at the end of the route.

Potential interviewees

Disabled people and their families

Hear directly from disabled people and their families about how cuts to DLA, benefit changes and local services cutbacks are affecting them day-to-day.

Celebrities

Interview Jane Asher, the President of three disability organisations involved in the march (Arthritis Care, National Autistic Society and Parkinson’s UK). She is available to conduct interviews during the afternoon of Tuesday 10 May and during Wednesday 11 May.

Interview Julie Fernandez. Julie is best known for her role as ‘Brenda’ in the BBC’s multi-award winning show ‘The Office’. Away from acting Julie has been a passionate campaigner.

Interview Sally Bercow. Labour activist, writer and wife of Speaker John Bercow. Their eldest son is autistic.

MPs speaking at the rally - Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of Work and Pensions Select Committee and Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Spokespeople from the UK Disabled People’s Council and Disability Benefits Consortium

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of the press teams below in advance for more information or to prearrange your interviews:

Andrea Ttofa, Leonard Cheshire Disability’s press office: 020 3242 0399; andrea.ttofa@LCDisability.org or press.office@LCDisability.org; 07903 949 388 (out-of-hours)

Jenny Brannan, Mencap press office: 020 7696 6017; jenny.brannan@mencap.org.uk; 0777 065 6659 (Out-of-hours)

Vicki Prout, Mind, Mental Health Charity for England and Wales: v.prout@mind.org.uk, 020 8522 1743 / 07850 788 514

Yashoda Sutton, RNIB Media Relations Team pressoffice@rnib.org.uk, 020 7391 2223, 07968 482812 (out-of-hours)

Vanessa Stevens, Sense, the national deafblind charity: vanessa.stevens@sense.org.uk, 020 7520 0965 / 07770 580 843 (out-of-hours).

Daniel Mazliah, Scope, the disability charity daniel.mazliah@scope.org.uk; 02076197203

Background information

People can sign up to the Hardest Hit March at www.hardesthit.org.uk

Disabled people, those with long-term conditions and their families are being hit the hardest by cuts to the benefits and services they need to live their lives.

What we want

  • The Government to make no cuts to Disability Living Allowance
  • The Government to improve the Work Capability Assessment so that it is fair and effective and ensure that Employment and Support Allowance supports those who cannot work
  • No cuts to services vital to disabled people, such as day care services, transport services and respite care services
  • To ensure that when it is introduced the Universal Credit recognises and allows for the additional costs of living with a disability

Background information on the following issues is available from the above press office contacts:

  • Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people
  • Research has found that disabled people stand to be £9billion worse off over the course of the current parliament
  • Reform of the welfare system, the universal credit, JSA, ESA and the work capability assessment
  • Reform of Disability Living Allowance
  • Local authority cuts

The Hardest Hit campaign

The Hardest Hit campaign is organised jointly by the Disability Benefits Consortium and the UK Disabled People’s Council and is supported by Action Duchenne, Action for Blind People, Action for M.E., Age UK, Arthritis Care, Breast Cancer Care, Broken of Britain, Carer Watch, Carers UK, Changing Perspectives, Child Poverty Action Group, Citizens Advice, Clic Sargent, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Deafblind UK, Disability Alliance, Disability Awareness in Action, Disability Wales, Elizabeth FitzRoy Support, Epilepsy Society, Every Disabled Child Matters, Guide Dogs, Haemophilia Society, Hammersmith and Fulham Against Care Cuts, Hampshire CIL, Inclusion Scotland, LASA, Leaning Disability Coalition, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Macmillan Cancer Support, Mencap, Meningitis Research Foundation, Mind, Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association, MS Society, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, NCIL, National AIDS Trust, National Autistic Society (NAS), National Deaf Children’s Society, Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, Parkinson’s UK, Public and Commercial Services Union, People First Ltd, Rethink, Royal Association for Disability Rights (RADAR), Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), RSI Action, Scope, Sense, Skill, Spinal Injuries Association, Sue Ryder, Transport for All, TUC, United Response, Vitalise, Where's the benefit?

[1] New research by Demos, funded by Scope, lifts the lid on a dramatic reduction in disabled people’s income as a result of the Government’s fiscal tightening. The report shows that in 2011 alone disabled people are set to be as much as £370 million worse off.

 

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