Jan 312012

Housing Emergency Time for an Alternative
Tenants’ security, rents and benefits, and the principles of non-market housing for rent are under an all-out assault.

We’ve lauched an open statement and on 21st Feb 6.30 House of Commons Ken Loach, Owen Jones (author, Chavs), Stephen Battersby, Councillor Catherine West, Austin Mitchell MP, tenants, unions and others will launch our Time for an Alternative.
Meetings are being organised around the country to galvanise action, including: 25 Feb Leeds, 16 March 7pm Cambridge, 29 March Harlow. Get involved – meet up 6pm 7th Feb at Camden Town Hall (see below).

We agreed on 15 November to unite with other groups, organise meetings and get out publicity on the streets, combine campaigning with other action as needed against evictions.

What you can do now
1. sign the Housing Emergency statement – download the statement here or see below. Ask your tenant, union, community and political group(s) to sign it. Send confirmation to this email or to mitchellav@parliament.uk
2. come to an organising meeting at Camden Town Hall Judd St WC1 9JE
3. Publicise and get others along to the launch meeting 21 Feb 6.30pm meeting at House of Commons with Ken Loach, Owen Jones and others – see leaflet here
4. Organise a local meeting – get in touch if you want help with leaflets, speakers etc

Housing Emergency – Time for an Alternative

Government is fuelling a housing emergency, with an all-out attack on tenants and council housing.

With house building collapsing, mortgages unaffordable, and private rents rising, Government is forcing up rents, attacking secure tenancies, and drastically cutting housing benefit.

Homeless applications and rough sleeping are already rising, and there are 4.5 million people on housing waiting lists. 1.3 million private tenants face homelessness or debt (Chartered Institute of Housing), and 7 million report using credit to pay for their home last year (Shelter).

Government’s housing measures do not have an electoral mandate. They will create more evictions, homelessness and fear, but will not curb high rents. They do nothing to create secure, affordable homes for rent desperately needed for all those who are priced out by the housing market. They will create exclusion zones driving out the low-paid, the sick and the poor, and their families.

We call on Councillors, MPs, tenant and trade union organisations, housing, disability and poverty campaigners and all who want sustainable, mixed communities across the UK to join in a campaign around these Action points:

1. Resist and campaign against cuts in housing benefit: we call on Councillors and other landlords not to evict tenants who fall behind with their rent as a result of the new cuts in housing benefit.

2. Reject huge council rent rises driven by government debt and inflation formula.

3. Oppose the use of so-called “Affordable Rent”, in fact unaffordable and insecure, with near-market rents and time-limited tenancies.

4. No scapegoating: The shortage of housing is a result of underinvestment and failure to build. It is not caused by existing or would-be tenants in work or not, of whatever race or religion.

5. Defend security of tenure for existing and future tenants.

6. Regulation to control private sector rents.

7. A programme of investment in new and improved council and other house building at genuinely-affordable rents.


It’s time to stand together, in a united, determined campaign to stop these attacks and demand investment in the homes we need: secure, accountable and genuinely affordable.


Add your name to this statement, and get your tenant group, trade union, campaign or community group to sign it. To sign send your name and organisation to Housing Emergency Alternative eileenshort@hotmail.com; mitchellav@parliament.uk or info@defendcouncilhousing.org.uk


Jan 302012

Many thanks to Emma (@pseudodeviant) for letting us repost this.

This morning I got up very early and (with help from my wonderful partner & carer) got dressed, drugged and ready to catch a train to London.

After the normal mess around with trains and alike we made it to Euston station in a fairly bright mood. We decided to save some money and roll down to the DPAC meeting point (MacDonalds on Regent Street at 11.30am) which took a while. Luckily for me, the first face I saw was that of blogger Latent Existence which was a lovely surprise, especially when it transpired we had actually met at an action in Birmingham ages ago. There was a bit of milling about whilst the plan was explained to us;

  1. Collect a D-Lock and keys.
  2. Get into place at Oxford Circus (where Oxford Street & Regent Street cross).
  3. When the lights change UK Uncut activist would run across with a chain which would have each end attached to a lamppost.
  4. Wheelchairs were to roll over to the crossing and line up along the chain.
  5. Lock the wheelchair to the chain and start protesting!

Whilst waiting for it to begin I spoke to a few journalists that had found us and explained my reasons for being there;

I wanted to protest against the both the Welfare Reform Bill and the cruel way it effects disabled people & children as well as the associated vilification of the disabled, poor and vulnerable. The government has decided to combat a fraud rate of 0.5% that they will take 20% off Disability Living Allowance by re-branding and reforming it into Personal Independence Payments (PIP). In doing so they are removing the assistance from DLA/PIP from 199 genuinely disabled people for every 1 ‘fraudster’* they catch. So they can remove so many they have made the criteria for PIP even more stringent than with DLA and they are including regular repeat assessments – regardless of whether your disability can ever improve or not. I wrote about how important my DLA is to me and the struggles I had obtaining it recently. The Responsible Reform Report (dubbed the Spartacus Report) details many areas of key concern better than I could here and it makes interesting reading if you fancy it.
The Conservative led government has done what it always does when they want to cut benefits to the poor and the vulnerable. First they leak press stories vilifying the targets, then when public opinion is on their side they strike with cruel reforms & cuts. We’ve been watching over the last couple of years as more and more horrid and twisted headlines about fake disabled people, scroungers and those seeking an easy life on ‘lavish’ benefits have filled up our press. I’ve popped some examples of recent press headlines on the right. All of these are real and all of them have helped shape public opinion. We’ve seen disability hate crime soar up by 75% and most I’ve spoken to have noticed it. I blogged this December about my experiences at the local Christmas market and I’ve been stopped in the street by strangers who ask me “Do you really need that wheelchair or are you just pretending?”. It’s both annoying and painful but still, I’m lucky that I’ve not been on the end of some of the violent abuse that many others cite having experienced.

To make it all the more poignant, yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day. A day during which we remembered those who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazi party. The party wished for racial purity and in 1933 began forcibly sterilising disabled people under the “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring”. By 1939 they began “euthanising” children born with severe defects and within months the criteria for eligibility for “euthanasia” was both relaxed and extended to older children, adolescents, and adults. But before this started happening the Nazi propaganda mill tried to make sure that the public were on side with gems like this poster:

A German propaganda poster from 1938″60000 Riechmarks, this is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the Community of Germans during his lifetime. Fellow Citizen, that is your money, too.” It’s so similar to last years tabloid headlines it chills my blood looking at it.

That’s why I joined the protest. That’s why I and many others chained ourselves in our wheelchairs across Oxford Circus. We see what is happening, how our rights are being eroded away and how thoughtless government propaganda is ruining our right to live free from fear and intimidation. We see all this and we are angry. We won’t go down without a fight. Even if it near kills us.

The protest itself was brilliant. No sooner had we done up our D-locks and settled into a chorus of “No ifs, no buts, no disability cuts!” than the sound of sirens filled the air. The police & some people that I assume were fancy shop security (given the odd beefeater meets bellhop uniforms) surrounded us quite quickly but did nothing. The atmosphere was great, angry yet positive, vulnerable yet strong as steel. We had a wonderful time and met some fantastic people. I spoke to journalists, independent media and radio crews and watched as some amazing people got filmed by the BBC & Sky. We had initially thought we would get an hour at the most before the bolt-cutters cam out and we were either arrested or dispersed. I think that because of the amount of media attention we had the police were loathe to act and risk bad publicity. They also would have had a big job trying to arrest all of the wheelchair users as I don’t think their vans are particularly accessible. Still, by 12.45 the police were telling us that we could either move over and just block one side of the road (the street behind us was strewn with abandoned buses) or we could stay and they would take ‘appropriate action’. Many of those chained up expressed a wish to stay and risk arrest simply to show how serious they were about protesting the Welfare Reform Bill. Sadly we had to leave before the end as we had a train to catch but twitter informed me that everything broke up peacefully at around 2pm with no arrests or trouble.

To finish on a brighter note are some pictures from today’s demo;

The wheelchair line getting into place.

Me and my partner fashionably sporting chains and a Green Party flag.

(Picture via @HeardInLondon)

DPAC protesters – not all of us use wheelchairs (Picture via @HeardInLondon)

Legal Observers – the person in orange was from Green and Black Cross, the person at the back with a camcorder works for the Met.

* let us remember that this term also includes disabled people that aren’t technically ‘disabled enough’ to receive DLA.

Media Links (edited to add more as they arrive):


Jan 302012
Friday 3rd February 1-2pm Triton Square.
Benefit claimants, disabled people and supporters will be gathering outside Atos’ head office in Triton Square this Friday in solidarity with the Nottingham 2 who were charged with ‘aggravated trespass’ at a previous protest in Nottingham.
A wheelchair user and a pensioner were charged with Aggravated Trespass after peacefully entering one of Atos’ assessment centres on one of the National Days of Action Against Atos and the Benefit Cuts held last year.  Whilst the charges have now been dropped campaigners have said this case has highlighted a new approach from Nottinghamshire Police towards peaceful protesters as discussed onNottingham indymedia:
“The arrests of Notts Uncut activists just before Christmas and the confiscation of a photography student’s tapes after he filmed an arrest demonstrate that the local force is changing their attitude towards peaceful protest.

This seems to have been confirmed by a police officers’ remark who commented on the arrest of the ‘Atos Two’ by stating that there ‘had been too much of this sort of thing and we were told to crack down on it’.”

A demonstration is also due to be held in Nottingham this Friday meeting at  the junction of Carlton Street and Heathcote Street, Hockley  at 12.30pm.
In London protesters will gather outside Atos’ gleaming corporate headquarters in Triton Square in both solidarity and in protest at the companies continuing involvement in the Work Capability Assessment.
Join us from 1pm – bring banners, leaflets, placards, noise!
 Posted by at 20:53
Jan 302012

Monday 13th Feb Come and join us in delivering Maria Miller (Minister of Disabled People) our protest letter opposing the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

Where: Caxton House, 6-12 Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9DA


When: Monday February 13th 2012


Time: Assemble: 2pm next to Caxton House

We really need your support to challenge the fact that funding through the fund, for over 20,000 disabled people with significant support needs are at risk.


This decision disregards disabled people’s human rights potentially removing us from the community to the care home. We were not even consulted.


Bring people, banners and noise! Invite media friends!


For further details contact DPAC: mail@dpac.uk.net or call Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC) on 07899 752877


ILF flyer v2-1 You can download the flyer here (Word Doc)

Jan 292012

Disabled activists from as far away as Edinburgh and Cornwall descended on central London yesterday afternoon determined to make a space for their voices and concerns to be heard.
With the utmost ease 20 wheelchair users were chained up across the road near Oxford Circus bringing the traffic in Regent Street to a total halt. The wheelchair users were supported by many more disabled activists with invisible impairments and supporters from UKUNCUT and Right to Work.
A coach driver who was trying to take passengers to the theatre said he stopped at the traffic lights and then suddenly the coach was trapped and unable to move anywhere. Busses were backed up all along Regent Street for over 2 hours.
It remains wrong that when tax evasion by the wealthy runs at £25 billion and neither the government or opposition parties make any attempt to collect this money disabled people, single parents and unemployed people are being made the scapegoats for the Condems savage and unnecessary austerity cuts.
Disabled people heartened by the success of  yesterday’s actions say this is only the beginning of renewed efforts on their part to have the Welfare Reform Bill overturned, and that even if this is passed their battle against it will continue.
Maria a DPAC supporter said ” we’ve shown today that we aren’t invisible and it’s now time that politicians stop viewing us as vulnerable. We’re not vulnerable and together we can wreak havoc to the streets of London”
More links to press coverage are at https://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/ and www.dpac.uk.net


What needs to be done NOW

More information about the Welfare Reform Bill and how it will push many people including those working on low incomes into destitution and further poverty can be found on DPAC’s website together with a template letter which we are asking people to send to their MPs now asking them to vote against the Welfare Reform Bill in its current form.
On Wednesday February 1st Condem MPs are planning to overturn democracy and vote to ignore amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill passed in the Lords. Please tell your MP this is wrong.
Jan 292012

Just a quick reminder that on both January 31st and February 1st there will be a vigil/protest outside parliament meeting at Old Palace Yard from 1-3 pm.

These are crucial dates as on Tuesday the Lords vote on whether to accept the bill as it stands or not and on Wednesday the Tories and their little yellow Tory friends aka the Lib Dems are going to try to overturn all the amendments won in the  Lords in recent weeks.

If you are able to go to these please do so, or if you know anyone who can please tell people about these vigils.


 Posted by at 20:39
Jan 292012

Disabled people protest at Welfare Reform Bill [BBC video]

Campaigners protest in London over disability cuts [BBC Breakfast video]

BBC Radio news headlines [BBC London 94.9 FM] (Jump to 57 minutes)

Disability campaigners stage central London protest against welfare reforms [Guardian with video]

Activists join together to fight ConDem attacks on the disabled [Indymedia]

Disabled bring Oxford Circus to a halt in welfare cuts demonstration [Mirror]

Wheelchair users chain themselves together and blocked centrael London over welfare cuts [Mail on Sunday]

Disabled Protesters Block Regent Street [Sky News]

Disability campaigners occupy Oxford Circus [ITN Video]

The demonisation of the disabled is a chilling sign of the times [The Observer]

Disabled People’s Protest In Oxford Circus [Personal report from Pseudodeviant

An ‘amazing success’ – disabled protest blocks Oxford Circus [Coalition of resistance]

Disabled Protesters Block Regent Street LBCFM 97.3

Disabled people lead central London blockade in Welfare Benefits protest | Ekklesia

Photo sets: Demotix1 Demotix2 DPAC [Flickr]


UK Uncut joins fight against welfare reform bill Guardian 25th Jan

Blogs, local coverage, You Tube and others

Excellent video showing D.A.N (Direct Action Network) at full power
Disabled People against Cuts by Lee Nichols

From Politicus


From Fitzrovia News

Protesters block Oxford Circus in demonstration against Welfare

From Able Magazine (links to Guardian video)

Welfare reforms protest blocks Oxford Circus – video »

Photos from Citizenside
Disabled protestors block Oxford Circus in protest against cuts

FromMSN News

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Virgin Media

Disabled Groups in Welfare Protest

From Lancashire Evening Post

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Morley Observer and Advertiser

Disabled groups in welfare Protest

From Liverpool Daily Post

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Scarborough Evening News

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Newmarket Journal

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Doncaster Free Press

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Mansfield Chat

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Dewsbury Reporter

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Burnley Express

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From North Wales Weekly News

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Retford Today

Disabled groups in welfare protest


We know that is much more at the local level with most local newspapers covering -Let us know if you find more ….

with thanks to Steven Sumpter @latentexistance for national links and thanks to all that made this a success!

Jan 282012

Photos from DPAC flickr account


From Demotix Heard in London


From Devon Luke Buchanan



Photos and report from Indymedia of today’s direct action

disabled activists, pensioners, and ukuncut staged a spectacular blockade at oxford circus today, blocking the northern junction of regent street for more than two hours. there were no arrests and after a consensus decision protestors left together peacefully and in solidarity  shortly after 2pm

Read the rest of the article at http://london.indymedia.org/articles/11559

More photos from Ray Everingham (Demotix)

Disabled people and pensioners in direct action against Welfare Reform

Jan 282012

It started this morning with Adam Lotun on BBC Breakfast

After the starting point at Holburn, protestors stopped traffic at Oxford Street – from ITN News. Sam Brackenbury speaking into microphone held by Howard Jones.

Video from The Guardian by John Domokos which cannot be embedded- watch it at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2012/jan/28/welfare-reforms-protest-oxford-circus


Report from The Guardian

Protesters in the West End campaign against the government’s welfare reform bill. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA

Disability campaigners have blocked one of central London‘s busiest road junctions with a line of wheelchair users chained together in the first of a series of protests against government welfare cuts.

The demonstration – which brought much of Oxford Circus to a standstill for more than two hours – was the result of an alliance between disabled groups and UK Uncut, which has staged similar protests against corporations accused of avoiding tax.

The protest was organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), while UK Uncut provided advice on how to stage an eyecatching, media-friendly event and brought along several of its own supporters.

The direct action began just before midday when a group of wheelchair users lined themselves along the northern edge of Regent Street, blocking traffic in both directions. The wheelchairs were chained together, and then chained to railings on either side of the road.

Within about 20 minutes, with traffic stationary and congestion spilling over into other streets, around 300 people were standing at the junction, chanting, playing drums and waving placards against the welfare reform bill, which is currently going through parliament.

After the road had been blocked for just over an hour, police asked over a loudhailer that the protesters move, which they refused to do. Eventually, at around 2pm, they unchained themselves and left voluntarily.

Planned cuts to the disability living allowance under the bill could see 500,000 disabled people losing money, the charity Mencap said.

Many of the disabled people taking part said they had never before joined a demonstration but felt angry at both the proposed cuts and the associated rhetoric from both ministers and the media.

“The tabloids have created this idea that we’re scroungers or fakers,” said Steven Sumpter, a 33-year-old who left his home in Evesham, Worcestershire, at 6.30am to join the line of chained-up wheelchair users. “This has allowed the government to do this – I think disabled people are seen as a good scapegoat.”

Merry Cross, from Reading, Berkshire, said disabled people needed to work together to get their voices heard. She said: “We’re seen as quite an easy target. We’re not a natural community – we don’t necessarily live in the same places, and we can find it hard to get together. That makes it easy for the government to think they can target us.”

Changes to the disability living allowance were likely mean her losing care assistance at home, Cross said, adding: “I’ve had it continuously for 20 years and now, when I’m 61, apparently I can cope fine without it. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Josie, 52, from Hampshire, who asked not to give her full name, said her disablity, which has left her with limited mobility and near-constant pain, was caused by a fall onto a concrete floor at work 10 years ago.

“I was doing three jobs until my accident and I was a keen hill walker,” she said. “But with the injuries from the fall I can only work part time. I’m probably going to have to give them up now because the cuts will mean I get less help.

“I’ve never been on a protest before, but the government’s plans make me so angry.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said the government remained “absolutely committed to supporting disabled people”, spending more than £40bn a year on support.

He said: “Households where someone receives disability living allowance will be exempt from the benefit cap, and we are giving local authorities an additional £190m over four years to ensure vulnerable people are supported through the housing benefit reform, so we are not expecting people to become homeless.

“The introduction of the universal credit, from 2013, will see a simpler and fairer system of support for disabled people.

“More importantly, there will be no cash losers at the point of transition to universal credit, and disabled adults in greatest need and severely disabled children will receive more support than now.”

From Socialist Worker

Disabled people block roads in central London against Tory cuts


From Sky News

Disabled Protesters Block Regent Street (video )

Jan 262012

Ministers want the welfare reform bill to become law by the end of this parliamentary session in May. Ministers are targeting a total of £18bn in welfare savings by 2015. Introducing time limits for ESA is expected to save £2bn a year while the benefit cap will save an estimated £270m a year. Plans to remove the “mobility component” of DLA from people in residential care – which have already been abandoned – were meant to save £135m a year. However the bill has already made much progress through Parliament so is unlikely to run out of time before May. Iain Duncan Smith says he is determined that his reforms will get through – and says MPs will overturn any defeats from the Lords, when the Bill returns to the Commons.

What this means and what we’ve won in the Lords

Concessions already won can be overturned with a majority of Tories and Lib Dems in the house. That’s why we must work to convince our MP’s to oppose even more misery for disabled people. We’ve already lost a lot.  In the House of Commons vote we risk losing on other key issues of fairness and equality-we’d like to see the whole welfare reform bill scrapped but here are the things we need to save

  • Peers voted down plans that would have meant some cancer patients receiving contributory ESA would have been means tested for the benefit after 12 months. Instead they voted to make it two years to give them longer to recover.
  • They also rejected the 12-month limit for ESA claimants who are judged capable of working at some stage in the future.
  • And they rejected moves to stop disabled young people who have never worked, due to illness or disability, from receiving contributory ESA – usually paid to those who have been paying National Insurance
  • Plans for a £26,000-a-year household benefit cap were also rejected

The Bill goes to House of Commons this month –act now!

You can find out how to contact your MP at www.parliament.uk or write to them at  www.writetothem.com


You can tweet to your MP from http://tweetminister.co.uk/mps


Here is a template letter to send or just say what the changes in the welfare reform bill will mean to you and your families.



Dear MP,

I/We are writing to express our concern over numerous aspects of the current Welfare Reform proposals and to ask you to vote against it as you are now being asked to consider and vote. Many of these measures will adversely affect the lives of disabled people and children and will in many cases remove disabled people’s rights supposedly guaranteed under the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities. If passed as they are many of these changes will result in widespread increases in poverty and homelessness and further exclusion of disabled people from society.


A number of my/our concerns around the Welfare Reform Bill include the introduction of Personal Independence Payments to replace Disability Living Allowance with a stated aim of reducing the number of claimants by 20% when the fraud rate for DLA is according to DWP figures only 0.5% and the social security advisory committee have said they can see no reason for the changes. Re-testing of claimants regularly although their conditions will never change will be a further waste of £675 million of public money and will merely add another test for disabled people to fear. 500 000 disabled people (already assessed as having high support needs) will lose their DLA, not because of a change in circumstance but a change in attitude.


Capping overall maximum benefits will lead to massive increases in poverty for those living in areas such as London and the South East where rents are so high. Disabled people cannot easily move to cheaper properties as care funding is not portable and cannot be moved from one local authority to another. Many families with disabled children are forced to give up work to care for them due to the lack of adequate alternatives.


There is a massive lack of accessible properties, both in the social and private rented sectors, available thus making it almost impossible for disabled people to find cheaper alternative accommodation. Further for anyone with a visual impairment or a learning difficulty it is often vital for them to remain in surroundings that they are familiar with and to maintain contact with medical and other professionals who know them well.


Another potential problem with housing is that the bill will link Local Housing Allowance rates to CPI index, which excludes housing costs. Already with the changes to LHA made it is becoming increasingly difficult for disabled people who have additional housing needs eg. to use a wheelchair, or have non-resident carers to find accommodation they can afford in the private rented sector.


Limiting of Employment and Support payments to either 12 months or 2 years for those in the Work Related Activity Group seem particularly illogical as disabled people’s impairments are not likely to go away and may in fact deteriorate. It ignores the effects of chronic, fluctuating conditions such as MS, ME, inflammatory bowel diseases etc. and even the impact of cancer on people’s lives.


The Welfare Reform Bill has at its heart the key assumption that many disabled people don’t want to work because of ready access to high levels of benefits. But the truth is that the real barrier to employment isn’t unwillingness to work. The real barriers include attitudes, discrimination, the built environment and getting the right support pre and in-work. At a time when sweetheart deals, bailouts and tax breaks reveal figures usually reserved for telephone numbers, 40% of families with 1 disabled child live in abject poverty.  This figure rises to 50% where there are 2 disabled children.

Disabled young people who have never worked, due to illness or disability should continue to receive contributory ESA usually paid to those who have been paying National Insurance.

In addition, the universal credit and welfare reform will bring in ‘a commitment’ for those who fail to ‘apply themselves’ to proper work seeking activities to tougher sanctions. Once again this will not address the complexity of employment related barriers that disabled people face, even if they really are ‘fit for work’. Cuts to Access to Work funding will put in place additional barriers to disabled people in trying to secure employment.


Many families with disabled children will face a cut to the financial support they receive. The new system will result in these children losing up to £1400 per year The Government estimates that 100,000 disabled children would lose out under this change.


The proposed abolition of the Independent Living Fund coupled with the reduction of local authority funding will result in massive numbers of disabled people losing their right to live independently in total contradiction to the UNCRPD which was ratified by the UK government. This fund should not be scrapped without an adequate and ring-fenced alternative being put in place. In other countries where similar moves have been made the costs to the state increased as large numbers of disabled people ended up being admitted to hospital for lengthy periods of time. This proposal in particular will be disastrous for disabled people’s rights.


The reforms suggest that all claims should be processed via the internet which is not accessible for many disabled people. What alternatives are being proposed for those who do not have or cannot access this method of claiming?

We hope that you will ensure these issues are fully addressed before you vote on this bill; the future of disabled people now lies in your hands.

 Posted by at 20:38
Jan 252012

Accessibility and legal information for Saturday’s action on the Welfare Reform Bill

On Saturday 28th January in central London, a group of disabled, sick and elderly people are going to engage in a daring and disruptive act of civil disobedience. UK Uncut will be there to support them. We hope that together we can stop the government’s Welfare Reform Bill in its tracks.

Accessibility information

The protest will involve being able to travel either by bus, taxi (this can be funded), or on foot/wheeling a reasonable distance from Holborn Tube station. If you have mobility issues and would like to attend the protest, please come to Holborn for 11am. Make yourself known to someone from UK Uncut (they’ll be holding a flag). We will then fund a taxi to take you to a point near the target. There will be people to buddy up with at Holborn and someone to meet you at the other end, so we can get to the target together at the right time.

The protest will also involve being outside for at least an hour. We will try and bring portable chairs and raincoats, but please bring your own if possible. There will be an activist with British Sign Language, although they may not be available all of the time, so please let us know if you need any BSL support and we will try to provide this.

If you would like more information, please email mail@dpac.uk.net with basic access support needed: e.g. do you need anyone to help push your chair, do you need to be guided from the tube, do you need a ‘buddy’ to help. Please send your mobile number to mail@dpac.uk.net in case we need to text you.

If you have been given other details of where to meet please stick to what you have been told already.

Legal information

The fantastic Green and Black Cross legal support group will have legal observers there on the day, checking police behaviour, and giving out advice cards.

The recommended solicitor for the day is Hodge, Jones & Allen.

Here are a couple of things you can do:

·         Write the Green and Black Cross legal support number somewhere on your body: 07946 541 511.

·         Take a look at this advice card, and keep one in your pocket on the day. Call Green and Black Cross if necessary, and use Hodge, Jones & Allen if you need a solicitor (020 7837 3456).

·         Bring a friend with you, and make an agreement to look out for each other throughout the day.

Now that you’re prepared, we’ll see you on Saturday

We’re tweeting from #dpac and #invisibleinvincibles on the day too.Please retweet details if you can’t be there.






 Posted by at 14:28
Jan 232012


***Accessibility information for Saturday’s action on the Welfare Reform Bill***

The protest will involve being outside for at least an hour and being able to travel either by bus, taxi (this can be funded), or on foot/wheeling a reasonable distance from Holborn Tube station.

If you want to come to this protest and would like more information, email mail@dpac.uk.net with basic access support needed: e.g. do you need anyone to help push your chair, do you need to be guided from the tube, do you need a ‘buddy’ to help. 

There will be activists with British Sign Language, although they may not be available all of the time, so please let us know if you need any BSL support and we will try to provide this.

Please send your mobile number to mail@dpac.uk.net in case we need to text you.

For anyone with access needs please email for further details to mail@dpac.uk.net


 Posted by at 21:25
Jan 222012
 Posted by at 16:21
Jan 222012

this does not necessarily reflect the views of DPAC’s steering group but was written by a care home resident who faced losing his mobility allowance.


The Voice of Disabled People?

Amongst the various other things that annoyed me about yesterday’s shameful treatment of disabled people courtesy of the Lords (et tu, Lib Dems?) was a vomit-inducing self-congratulatory homily by Lord Low, who spearheaded this (admittedly influential) report on the withdrawal of mobility allowance forpeople in residential care.

Readers may remember that this nasty proposal was born out of invented assumptions that people in residential care have all their mobility needs met by their funding authorities, that they are similar to people in acute hospitals who don’t have mobility needs and (we suspect) due to an assumption that this seldom-heard and severely disempowered group would be unable to defend themselves. Others cynically (though perhaps correctly!) suspected this was the sacrificial clause designed to enable the Government tosave face on the remainder of their cripple-kicking, disempowering, undemocratic and lying Bill.

Disabled people were naturally incensed. People from all sorts of backgrounds put in a huge amount of effort to point out the “inaccuracies” in the assumptions inherent in the proposal, and the dramatic negative effect this would have on residents’ lives. Some examples include Bendy Girl’s radio interviews, my oral and written evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights (PDF file), and our home’s residents who got our MP to visit to correct his assumptions and to raise our concerns. And these examples are a drop in the ocean compared to the huge amount of effort put in many different ways by a lot of disabled people to make the Government change its mind.

Yet in this extraordinary speech (with supposed false modesty!) Lord Low claims responsibility for the U-turn on behalf of the secretariat (provided by two charities for, not of, disabled people) and the other half for Members of Parliament’s common sense! Shamefully, he made no mention of the work done bydisabled people up and down the country to overturn this odious proposal.

There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over 99 just persons who need no repentance. For that reason, I greatly welcome the Government’s decision to drop their proposal to withdraw the mobility component from those living in residential care. I have been given some credit for bringing this about with the review that I was asked to lead by Leonard Cheshire Disability and Mencap, but I think, in all honesty, I must disclaim this. Half of that is because I had a very good team working with me, supported by an extremely able and hard-working secretariat from both organisations; and half because I think Ministers, to their considerable credit, largely came to their decision of their own accord. Perhaps I may have provided a little cover for a U-turn-if so, I am glad to have been of service.

Pass the bucket.

Lord Low, as a disabled person himself, should be ashamed for continuing the traditional disempowerment of disabled people by continuing the enforced misapprehension that they cannot speak for themselves, that their words and actions don’t have power, that other people can more effectively speak for them. His lack of acknowledgement of disabled people’s actions yesterday is abreathtaking rebuff of the Disabled People’s Movement.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised as this sort of behaviour is by no means new. After all, as ex-chief of the Disability Rights Commission Bert Massie says, we shouldn’t expect publicly funded charities that act as proxy providers of public services to bite the hand that feeds them. (I’m looking at you, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Mencap, who provided such vital secretarial support to the Low report.)

He pointed to the “superb” Responsible Reform report – published this week by disabled activists – which accused the government of misleading parliament over disability living allowance reform, as a demonstration of why the voluntary sector’s independence was so important.

He said that any charity that decided it was unable to produce such a report because of the risk of annoying the government had immediately been “compromised” by signing a contract to provide services.

But Lord Low’s speech is such an inexcusable, self-congratulatory, brown-nosing, odious homily todisabled people’s disempowerment, I couldn’t resist this rebuttal.


 Posted by at 16:12
Jan 212012

Welfare Reform Bill — no going back to Dickensian days

Next Vigils & Lobbies: 1pm-3pm, MONDAY 23 JAN, WEDNESDAY 25 JAN, TUESDAY 31 JAN.

* Defend Child Benefit for all * Oppose all benefit caps and sanctions  
*Cap greedy landlords, not low-income people!


called by

Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust


Meet opposite Parliament – Lords’ entrance

Old Palace Yard, Abingdon St SW1 – Westminster tube

All welcome


We have had two very successful vigils attended by over 30 people – people with disabilities, single mothers, claimants and other activists. The Royal College of Nursing joined the vigil last Tuesday. Alex Callaghan, who leads their policy work on the social determinants of health, had photos taken for Nursing Times


Baroness Hollis and Lord Ramsbotham will raise amendments proposed by Zacchaeus 2000, protecting people forced to repay overpayments made in error, and consideration of claimants’ circumstances before sanctions.


  • Wednesday 25 January,  last day of Report stage.


  • Tuesday 31st January, 3rd reading of the Bill where it will be passed or not as a whole by Lords.


Government defeats so far:


  • no cut to Housing Benefit for having a spare room.
  •  to keep benefit entitlement for young people who are severely disabled, so they have financial independence coming into adulthood;
  • increasing to two years the one-year time limit on National Insurance-based sickness benefit for people who are recovering;
  • entitlement for terminally-ill people – the government wanted to force people who have longer than six months to live, to attend work-focussed interviews to get benefit.

Please join us again, and publicise it on Facebook, Twitter and email lists.  If you can’t come, you can ring and write to the Lords (0207 219 3000, fax 020 7219 5979).  More info and email addresses are here.


Press coverage:

Morning Star reports from 17 January Vigil

Guardian video and report – watch here.

Guardian blog

 BBC interview with Baroness Meacher explaining the three votes

The Commissioner for Children says the Bill contravenes the UN Convention

The Londonist report



Come and raise your concerns on the Vigils ♦ Bring placards with your organisation’s name and issues you are concerned about ♦ Lobby the Lords – support amendments to keep Child Benefit out of the benefit cap, extend concessions for women fleeing domestic violence, ensure immediate benefit payments for people coming out of prison, and Zacchaeus 2000 amendments to protect claimants from unliveable benefit repayments, sanctions and bailiffs ♦ Lobby your MP; contact them to make an appointment or write to them about your personal situation – find your MP here. If you are unable to come on the day, ring them or write, for Lords’ addresses see here; and sign the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust e-petition against the benefit caps here.

More info:

smsd@allwomencount.net  0207 482 2496  PaulNicolson@z2k.org  07961177889



PRESS NOTICE.                                                                          



Rev Paul  Nicolson, Chair, Zacchaeus 2000.

020 83765455

07961 177889


Welfare Reform Bill

The Ramsbotham and Hollins amendments.

On Monday the 23rd January Peers will consider two amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill  which are vital to the mental wellbeing of the poorest citizens of the UK because they provide safeguards against the damage done to mental health when debts are enforced against poverty incomes.   The Royal College of Psychiatrists, Mind, the major Christian Churches, CAB and Liberty are among the 20 NGOs supporting;  

  1. Lord Ramsbotham’s amendment 62A, which will ensure that jobcentre and local authority officials do not punish welfare claimants with sanctions and penalties,  nor enforce overpayments made in error by officials, when they know there is good reason not to, by requiring officials to examine the facts and circumstances of each case,  and
  2. Baroness Hollins’s amendment 62ZC, which will retain the current legal prohibition on enforcing overpayments of welfare against claimants which are made in error by officials.

Both amendments were proposed by Zacchaeus 2000, a Christian Trust that works with vulnerable and impoverished debtors.


The Rev Paul Nicolson, Chair Zacchaeus 2000, comments.

“The Department of Work and Pensions has been advised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists that poverty is trigger factor for poor mental health, a factor in maintaining poor health and part of the experience of those with poor mental health.

We know from our experience of serving welfare claimants in debt to the State how seriously depressed they are: it hurts their families too.

Welfare incomes are already set at poverty levels to act as an incentive to look for work; but the Welfare Reform Bill,  coupled with cuts and caps on one hand and rising prices of food and fuel on the other, is creating debts without the necessary safeguards for welfare claimants or poor people in work.

The Centre for Mental Health has shown that mental health problems already cost the economy in England £105 billion in 2010/11; the Bill will increase that cost”.


Please sign our e-petition on


Stop the housing benefit and universal credit caps.


Rev Paul Nicolson

Chair, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

34 Grosvenor Gardens

London SW1


0207 259 0801

0207 259 0701 fax

0208 376 5455 home

07961 177889 mobile








Jan 202012
It’s been a busy week for us all with a visit to London on Tuesday to go to the vigil about DLA reform outside the House of Lords called by Winvisible, Single Mothers Self defence and the Zaccharius Trust. This was a very cold day and when I left home there was thick frost on the ground, however it was very marginally warmer in London and good to see other disabled people we know at the vigil. Sadly as I’m sure you all know one-third of Labour Lords didn’t bother to turn up to vote on this vital part of the Welfare Reform Bill and scrapping DLA was passed by 16 votes.
The Welfare Reform Bill will shortly be leaving the Lords and going back to the Commons where amendments can still be made so next week and it still has to be voted through so please next week email your MP and ask them not to support this bill. Tell them how important things like DLA are for you and your lives. Explain how difficult it would be for you to move from your current home to one in a cheaper area as this bill also seeks to limit the total amount of benefit disabled people can get for living and housing costs to £250 a week if you’re single and to £500 a week for families.
Today we had the first protest of Leamington and Warwickshire DPAC outside the offices of Tory MP Chris White. In spite of continuous rain there were between 30-35 people there which is much higher than I’d hoped for. We couldn’t get to see Chris White and shortly before the protest began staff came out of the office and went away. We did however leave a letter for him and he has agreed to see me and some of his constituents at another time now.

Here are some of the photos:









Jan 202012

A big thank you to Harpy Marx to let us repost her account of the lobby on here

I attended the vigil and lobby outside Parliament regarding the Welfare Reform Bill and the ongoing attacks on welfare benefits.

Welfare Reform protest

Welfare Reform protesters

Welfare Reform protesters

Welfare Reform protesters

Welfare Reform protesters

Welfare Reform protesters

Welfare Reform protesters - Linda Burnip

Reform Benefit Protestors

Reform Benefit Protestors

First posted at Harpy Marx’s blog

Watch the Guardian video on the previous Welfare Reform protest 12th Jan

As the House of Lords debates amendments to the welfare reform bill, protesters from a range of welfare activist groups such as Single Mothers’ Self Defence, Mad Pride and Right to Work gathered outside to lobby members. They were joined by Labour MP John McDonnell, who called for ‘much more severe and serious opposition’ from the Labour party, in the hope that parts of the bill could be defeated if it comes back to the Commons

Jan 192012
Hi Folk,Here is a spiffing gig at a great venue coming up in February. Should be something for everyone – so don’t miss this if you can possibly make it along to Tottenham in North London.
The Inner Terrestials are a fab live outfit spanning dub, ska, electro folk and politics they exude excitement and at times not a little cockney menace. Check out their version of Guns of Brixton. And former bluesman / psychedelic guru Edgar Broughton is nowadays to be found in a mesmerizingly tuneful folksy mood. Then we have the contemporary comment on those 2012 electric fences and drones in Hackney and Newham- Olympic Clampdown. And Sons of Psychoyogi is psycho-punk-jazz. Jazz. Nice.
Hope to see you there
yours in solidarity
madpridemarkHere’s what Dave writes about this upcoming cornucopia:MAD PRIDE
For the Holocaust Day
339 Tottenham High Road
Tottenham N17 6QN

8pm – 1am
Admission £5 / £2 concessions
A Fundraiser for the Campaign Against Welfare Benefit Cuts


The mental health right’s campaigning organisation MAD PRIDE is bringing the next in it’s series of Fundraising events to support campaigns raising concern about the implications of the current government welfare benefits ‘reforms’, which in real terms will mean cuts to benefits for sick and disabled people, including those with mental health difficulties, to a new venue in Tottenham, following from a series of events in venues around south London in the last year.

People with mental health problems are already facing considerable anxiety because of concerns about the new revised ‘work capability assessment’ that even people with ‘severe and enduring’ mental health problems are now expected to go through, where they had been exempted from the previous ‘all work’ tests due to concerns that their needs would be too great and that pressure could cause people to relapse and their mental health could be worsened. New government targets and quotas for the numbers of people they want to remove from receipt of sickness benefits now mean that these vulnerable people are having to face this.

There are concerns that these arbitrary ‘tick box’ assessments are not ‘fit for purpose’ for the proper assessment of people with complex mental health issues and that the ‘medical professionals’ employed by the private Atos Healthcare who hold the contract to conduct the tests are not in any way qualified to properly assess people with mental health problems. This has raised concern about such people being wrongly assessed as ‘fit for work’ and when they are unable to find work in the current highly competitive employment market then being forced to work doing menial tasks for basic benefit level pay in one of the governments new ‘mandatory work’ (workfare) placement schemes. Already many people with mental health problems have been experiencing severe anxiety and suicidal feelings about the implications of this. We fear an increase in suicide levels because of this and other aspects of the proposed changes in the benefits system.

Many people with mental health problems will also be affected by changes to Disability Living Allowances that many rely on to help provide valuable support. Housing Benefit caps and restrictions could mean people with mental health problems living in certain parts of London may be forced to move to areas with lower rental costs and this could have a devastating effect on their vital support networks.

 Posted by at 21:15
Jan 132012

here is an update we’ve had from Notts Defence

We are glad to announce that the case against the ‘Atos Two’ is being
‘discontinued’, i.e. dropped. However, it is now more than ever necessary
to continue the protests against Atos, to defy any attempts of police
repression and to stand with those whose actions are being criminalised.

The prosecution stated that they would “discontinue” the case, the reason
given was that the “complainant no longer supports the prosecution”. It is
unknown whether this change of mind was due to Atos’ concerns of further
bad publicity or whether coppers and/or CPS advised the “complainant” to
back off before their case would have been dismantled in court (or maybe

In any case it is without question that the remarkable acts of solidarity
by hundreds of people did make a significant impact. The public pressure
mounting up even before the trial had started will have made an
impression, demonstrating the importance of such practical acts of
solidarity and the potential of mutual aid and support.

The ‘Atos Two’ have asked us to express their gratitude to everyone who
has supported them over the last few months and let you know that you’re
all fantastic!

However, it mustn’t be forgotten that this case of political policing, an
attempt to intimidate protesters and deter further acts of direct action,
is not an isolated one. The arrests of Notts Uncut activists just before
X-Mas (http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/2276) and the
confiscation of a photography student’s tapes after he filmed an arrest
(http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/2238) that the local force is
changing their attitude towards peaceful protest. This seems to have been
confirmed by a police officers’ remark who commented on the arrest of the
‘Atos Two’ by stating that there “had been too much of this sort of thing
and we were told to crack down on it”.

Furthermore Atos is still committed to make people’s lives a misery and
the company remains one of the many examples why we need much more of
“this sort of thing”.

Therefore we must continue to protest against Atos and to defy any
attempts of intimidation by direct action. We must also engage in acts of
practical solidarity with those who find themselves subject to police
repression and/or caught up in the justice system.

Whether someone is being harassed or assaulted by law enforcers in the
streets, put through a WCA, dragged through the courts or locked away in
prisons or detention centres, an injury to one is an injury to all!

Join us for a protest against Atos ‘Healthcare’ and police repression on
Friday 3rd February 2012 at 12.30pm in Hockley (Nottingham).

For details, posters, leaflets etc. see
http://nottingham.indymedia.org/events/2247 and

Best wishes
Notts Defence Campaign

See articles and press release on Indymedia

See also these Indymedia features…
Regarding the original protest against Atos
Regarding the charges against the ‘Atos Two’
Regarding the solidarity campaign for the ‘Atos Two’
Arrests of Notts Uncut activists
Harassment of student photographer

See also legal information and bustcard

 Posted by at 20:00
Jan 132012

Welfare Reform Bill — no going back to Dickensian days
Next Vigil & Lobby: 1pm-3pm, Tuesday 17 January
Defend Disability Living Allowance * Defend Child Benefit * Stop aggressive bailiffs and Jobcentre sanctions
called by Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
Meet opposite Parliament – Lords’ entrance
Abingdon St SW1 – Westminster tube
All welcome

We had a fantastic turnout and a big impact at our 11 January vigil – watch it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/video/2012/jan/11/welfare-protest-lords-video
See links to other media (below). The government was defeated on several proposals (below). We must keep up the pressure. We’ll be there each time the Bill is debated:

® Tuesday 17 January when the abolition of low-rate Disability Living Allowance is discussed, a 20% cut which would deprive an estimated 700,000 disabled people of the money they need to live independently and go to waged work.
® Monday 23 January, when the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds plans to raise his amendment to keep Child Benefit out of the benefit cap.
® Wednesday 25 January if the debate gets extended.
Please join us again, and publicise it on Facebook, Twitter and email lists. If you can’t come, you can ring and write to the Lords (0207 219 3000, fax 020 7219 5979). More info and email addresses are here: http://globalwomenstrike.net/content/briefing-welfare-reform-bill-2011-%E2%80%93-report-stage.

The 11 January vigil was visited by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, and John McDonnell MP. See both their speeches in the Guardian video. Inside Parliament, a baroness thanked us and said that the Lords are being overwhelmed with emails! As a result of everyone’s efforts and protests up to now, three votes against the government were won:
to keep benefit entitlement for young people who are severely disabled, so they have financial independence coming into adulthood;
increasing to two years the one-year time limit on National Insurance-based sickness benefit for people who are recovering;
entitlement for terminally-ill people – the government wanted to force people who have longer than six months to live, to attend work-focussed interviews to get benefit.

Guardian blog http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jan/11/disability-welfare?intcmp=239#block-9

BBC interview with Baroness Meacher explaining the three votes http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16522485

More photos http://www.demotix.com/news/999151/welfare-rights-vigil-opposite-houses-parliament-london

The Commissioner for Children says the Bill contravenes the UN Convention

The Londonist report http://londonist.com/2012/01/welfare-reform-bill-protest.php

FYI: On bailiff powers:
“Debts and the use of bailiffs against the poorest households are being increased by the Treasury and the Department of Work and Pensions capping housing and council tax benefits while the prices of fuel, food, clothing and transport escalate. It will result in families choosing between paying their rent or council tax, or paying to eat and then falling into the clutches of the local authorities who add the court and unregulated bailiffs costs to council tax arrears; and whose bailiffs the Ministry of Justice refuses to properly regulate. Legal and illegal door to door lenders will thrive on extortionate interest rates as the banks refuse to led to the poorest citizens. The consequence is an inescapable misery of debt, even mental illness which costs billions in the Health Service.

It is vital that bailiff regulation is introduced with proper safeguards for vulnerable debtors before the Universal Credit hits impoverished households from 2013 when the DWP will be paying housing benefit direct into the claimants bank accounts with council tax benefit paid by the local authorities, all with caps. The DWP and the Treasury are creating a flood of unmanageable debts for the bailiffs to enforce.” www.Z2k.org

More info:

smsd@allwomencount.net 0207 482 2496 PaulNicolson@z2k.org 07961177889

 Posted by at 19:53
Jan 122012

Independent Living Fund Trustees Press Need for Source of Social Care Support Beyond Local Authorites

In their response to “Caring for Our Future”, the government’s social care White paper consultation, ILF Trustees stressed the need for a source of specialised support from a ring-fenced budget. Whilst acknowledging the need to further develop the current system and a new model of support, the response warned of poorer outcomes for disabled people without the influence of a national element to independent living support.

The response highlights that “Despite attempts through the personalisation agenda for adult social care to support life in the community, with its primary focus on safeguarding and protecting ‘vulnerable people’ from being without basic levels of support, ASC supplied by Local Authorities has, in the experience of the most severely disabled people, been unable to effectively tackle their exclusion from society. “ In contrast to this, service users of the ILF have reported better outcomes and the value of having an assessor who has local knowledge but is independent of the local authority.

The Trustees state in the response that their “firm view is that [a new model of support] needs to look beyond the mainstream funding of social care from local authorities”. The case is made for maintaining a national element to continue the ILF’s role in driving up standards from local authorities and pushing for consistency.

To read the response in full please go to: caring for our future

Jan 122012

Baroness Meacher, an independent crossbencher, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The British public do not accept the idea that the banks screw up and very disabled people pay the bill.”
The Lords vote see the Government defeated by 234 to 186, a majority of 48, over a plan to limit to one year the time people can claim Employment Support Allowance.
Peers agreed a move to replace the one-year cap with the ability for the Government to specify a limit of no less than two years.
Lord Patel, an independent crossbench peer, said: “I am sympathetic to cutting the deficit, but I am highly sympathetic to sick and vulnerable people not being subjected to something that will make their lives even more miserable.”
The Government was also defeated when peers voted by 222 to 166, majority 56, to accept another amendment by Lord Patel removing the time limit on contributory ESA payments from people receiving treatment for cancer.
Employment minister Chris Grayling said the welfare state should be focused on supporting those with the most need quotes the BBC –DPAC agrees that it should too but we think Grayling is a bit confused over whose those might be – fortunately the Lords are not.

Labour said the coalition was defeated for trying to “cross the basic line of British decency”.

DPAC networks should congratulate themselves for the long months of protests and lobbying on Atos, WCA and on ESA since 2010- but the battle is not over yet. As responsible groups we know that the lobbying must continue when the amendments go to the House of Commons.

Pictures of Tuesday’s protest can be found here