We are conducting an investigation into the human impact of food poverty, child poverty, payday loans, and benefit caps. Our research will form a part of a wider investigation organised by Professor of Journalism Paul Bradshaw, who is gathering information from across the UK. Our focus is on people living in Nottingham, and are looking to bring to light issues confronting those groups who are suffering as a result of economic changes in the past three to four years.
We are looking for people to come forward with experiences particularly of using food banks in Nottingham, especially those who have started using food banks in that last few years. We are also looking for people who are payday loan customers, and who have suffered financial losses as a result of using payday loans. If anybody has also experienced financial difficulties or has felt that they have been left vulnerable following changes to the benefits system, particularly regarding benefit caps, we would very much appreciate them getting in touch.
The questions we ask will be directed at understanding the impact of these circumstances on the daily lives of people in Nottingham, and the strains that they are under with reference to any of the issues stated above. Respondents will be encouraged to speak openly about their experiences, however all responses can be kept anonymous if preferred, and we will not publish any information without the express permission of respondents.
Let’s go on a journey back in time to the year 1948 …
Britain was emerging from a World War and had a huge national debt. Much bigger than the one we face today. Did we see painful cut backs and austerity measures?
No, quite the opposite. We saw the birth of our National Health Service and the Welfare State. The UK was the first country to make health care, social care and financial security accessible to all.
1948 saw the launch of ground-breaking new laws designed to protect and care for everybody in our society, including universal unemployment benefits,, universal child benefits, disability benefits, rights to housing and the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
1948: a year when the Olympics were last in town; and the people of Britain were, at last, looking forward to the future.
Britain back then really was “all in it together”. The future looked better than the past. So, we partied in the streets and dreamt of what we could achieve as peo-ple and as a country.
Fast forward to 2012 and things feel rather different. The government is not playing fair: its spending cuts are the deepest for decades and it’s cheating ordinary people by forcing them to suffer for an economic crisis they didn’t cause.
The government is also lying: it actively enables big business to dodge tax and slashes tax rates for the wealthy. Right now, for us, for ordinary people in this country, the future’s not what it used to be.
So now is the time to party like it was 1948. Street parties are going to be all the rage for the Queen’s Jubilee. But let’s make ours have a twist.
On Saturday 26th May join UK Uncut’s Great British Street Party to demand that we keep our public services, our rights and our welfare system and to celebrate a new future that isn’t dictated to us by a handful of millionaires but decided by us all – together.
Join Notts Uncut at 12 noon on Listergate outside Topshop. For more info find us on Facebook – Notts-Uncut Part-of UK-Uncut, Twitter @nottsuncut or look for event info on Nottingham Indymedia.
People in Nottingham, joined a National Day of Action against ATOS Healthcare and the government’s attack on benefits for people with disability and illness through the ‘Work Capability Test’ and Welfare Reform Bill.
Protesters assembled in Hockley, Nottingham city centre, to head over to protest at the ATOS assessment centre on Stoney Street.
This organisation has the government contract to re-assess claimants for the disability allowances. But folks claim that all they are doing is shifting people from this benefit to other lesser benefits like Job Seekers Allowance. Irrespective of the claimants abilities.
On arrival at the office, people gathered arround the entrance, displaying banners and handing out leaflets. Protestors, including many in wheelchairs and some partially-sighted then entered the office. Claimants and supporters then exchanged stories of what assesment by Atos had meant to them.
Police and protestors
After about 30mins, 4 police cars containing 7 or 8 police officers arrived at the building. After talking to Atos management, then proceeded to read out the section of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, concerning ‘aggravated tresspass’. This included the bit about obstructing or disrupting a lawful activity and workers there feeling intimidated by all these folks in wheelchairs in the outer office! As you would expect, this was greeted with a certain amount of credulity!! Anyway the threat was clear. Leave within minutes or all would be arrested.
69 Powers to remove persons committing or participating in aggravated trespass.
(1)If the senior police officer present at the scene reasonably believes—
(a)that a person is committing, has committed or intends to commit the offence of aggravated trespass on land [F1…in the open air]… ; or
(b)that two or more persons are trespassing on land [F2…in the open air]… and are present there with the common purpose of intimidating persons so as to deter them from engaging in a lawful activity or of obstructing or disrupting a lawful activity,
he may direct that person or (as the case may be) those persons (or any of them) to leave the land.
(2)A direction under subsection (1) above, if not communicated to the persons referred to in subsection (1) by the police officer giving the direction, may be communicated to them by any constable at the scene.
(3)If a person knowing that a direction under subsection (1) above has been given which applies to him—
(a)fails to leave the land as soon as practicable, or
(b)having left again enters the land as a trespasser within the period of three months beginning with the day on which the direction was given,
he commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, or both
[F1…in the open air] [F2…in the open air]
these words removed by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 sect 59 …… Hence now, anywhere!
Most then leave, but one man in a wheelchair and another, did remain and where then arrested. One was then lead off in handcuffs to the Bridwell Police Station for processing. I was expecting the man in the wheelchair might have been dragged out in handcuffs and manhandled about [Joddy McIntyre style], but seeing my photo-opportunity they might have created, ‘street bailed’ the individual and he was allowed to leave un-molested.
Atos being true to form [with police assistance] thus showed themselves to be the bullying organisation, many of the most vulnerable people amongst us already knew………
Atos Origin have £300 million contract with the Con-dem Government to continue carrying out ‘work capability assessments’. It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible. This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer. Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit. To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful.
Atos have now extended their harassment of sick and disabled by using legal threats to silence websites which have been critical of them, see the Benefit Claimants Fightback website below for more details. http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/
I haven’t been able to get the full story yet but it seems that around 30 protesters occupied the Nottingham Atos medical assessment centre shortly after 12pm today in protest at the company’s role in forcing people with medical conditions into work. Two people were arrested for aggravated trespass including one person in a wheelchair that the police were unable to fit into their van. He was charged on the spot and bailed whilst the other was taken to the Bridewell police station. A solidarity protest was held outside which was swelled in the evening by 30 cyclists from the Nottingham critical mass. Just as we arrived at around 6.30 the arrestee was released to much bell ringing and applause!
Today’s critical mass was well attended with 2 sound systems and we had a good old tour around town before heading to the Sumac for a special post-CM people’s kitchen. Drivers’ tempers were a little bit more frayed than usual thanks to the hot day but the mass was good humoured and fun. Our show of solidarity to the anti-Atos people was definitely a highlight – especially as we were there to see the man released.
The early days of May, 2011 saw Washington, DC invaded by 300 members of a national grass-roots community organisation – ADAPT – bringing together disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. ADAPT was in Washington to protest against Representative Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal, which includes massive cuts to Medicaid.
Medicaid is the United States health program for people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states. Under the Ryan Plan, Medicaid programs would be cut by 35%, which translates to a loss of $772 billion in human services. Additionally, the Ryan Plan proposes a system of Medicaid block grants for states—giving states greater ability to make cuts. Currently there are 60 million people counting on Medicaid right now, 8.5 million are disabled people; 8.8 million are on low incomes, frail, elderly and disabled individuals who rely on Medicaid to plug the gaps in Medicare coverage, such as long term care. Medicaid pays for vital services to assist people with learning difficulties to live and work in the community rather than be forced into an institution. ADAPT went to Washington to demand:
STOP CUTS TO MEDICAID AND NO MEDICAID BLOCK GRANTS TO THE STATES.
On Monday, 2nd of May, ADAPT occupied the Rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building demanding that Congress derail Ryan’s budget proposal. As evening approached the Capitol Police began arresting ADAPT members from all over the country, who had remained in the Cannon House Office Building since midday. The ADAPTers wanted three Representatives to publicly withdraw their support for Medicaid budget cuts and Medicaid state block grants. They stated that without this commitment, ADAPT were willing to do whatever it takes
“…to defend the right of people with disabilities and seniors to live in our homes, not nursing homes and institutions.”
By night’s end 91 members of ADAPT had been arrested.
The following day 10 more members were arrested for “unlawful conduct” as they sat and chanted in Rep. Paul Ryan’s office demanding that Medicaid not be a block-grant to US states. The 10 were the ADAPT
negotiating team who were there to lead a discussion on rebalancing and budgetary concerns, clarifying that institutional long-term care options are more expensive than providing long-term care services chosen and directed by Americans in our own homes. When it became clear Representative Ryan’s team wasn’t planning to give them anything more than lip-service, ADAPT ramped it up. The 10 were chanting loud and strong “No More Block Grants,” followed by “We Want Ryan.”
At the same time approximately 250 ADAPT members were out in the hallway began using cell phones to call Representative Ryan’s office and demand that he meet with them to discuss how block grants limit home and community-based options that save money spent on long-term care services.
The following day saw ADAPTers focus on the U.S. Senate, particularly the Gang of Six, the bipartisan group of Senators who are charged with creating the Senate’s budget plan in response to Ryan’s Plan. Six contingents of around fifty ADAPTers each visited one of the six Senators’ offices to demand that the Senate budget plan eliminate the institutional bias, prevent caps on Medicaid spending, and get rid of the idea to block grant Medicaid funding to states. In addition, we asked that the Senate work to introduce legislation that will mandate community choice as a service in every state, and work with ADAPT to ensure that our voices are at the table in every decision that affects us. ADAPT threw down a hard line that no matter how supportive the Senators may be of our cause, this issue is life and death for us and we cannot be satisfied until we have specific budgetary commitments.
Six ADAPT leaders also met with senior advisors at the White House on disability and the Affordable Care Act, respectively. There third action was attending a press conference jointly convened by the National Association of County Organizations’ (NACo) Large Urban County Caucus and various Senators.
All in all ADAPT made its presence known in Washington at exactly the right time as states flounder through their Medicaid crises and the Senate and House get ready for a showdown over the budget. ADAPT is, as always, ready to pitch into the fray to fight to DEFEND OUR FREEDOM!
Crucial issues to consider
In the opinion of DPAC these events across the pond highlight a number of crucial issues. First, the cuts taking place in the UK should not be viewed in isolation nor simply reduced to a question of mismanagement by the previous Government; they are taking place due to the financial crisis caused by agents of global capitalism. Agents who put profits before people thereby employing an economic system that cannot serve communities nor protect the planet from greed and exploitation.
Second, what this means is our response to the cuts cannot simply have a local or national dynamic; disabled people must show our solidarity with disabled people across the globe. We must support our disabled brothers and sisters in the US against budgets cuts to Medicaid but we should also support our disabled brothers and sisters across Africa and the Middle East as they struggle against injustice, inequalities and oppression.
Third, the significance of the events of 2nd – 4th of May in Washington, DC for disabled people is to note how organised and determined the ADAPTers were to take their message to the political elite. They didn’t go “cap-in-hand” like a Victorian Oliver Twist to beg for more whilst hanging onto the coat tails of the charity sector. ADAPT had clear demands and were prepared to back these up with direct militant action – they understand that disabled and older people’s are at stake. ADAPT also offers clear political leadership – something which is disturbingly lacking in the UK; between October 2010 and May 2011 there has been little done by national DPOs to protect the interests of disabled people.
Protestors at Triton Sq, London
In the UK Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against poverty pimps Atos Origin beginning on Monday 9th May with a picnic and party in Triton Square home of their head office. All week events are taking place across the UK.
Thursday, May 12 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Unison offices, 19th floor McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway. B4 7NN
Public Meeting: Benefit Cuts: Who are they targeting? How can we stop them? – called by DPAC and Right To Work
Then on Friday May 13th at noon outside Waterstones bookshop opposite bull statue in Bullring centre join them for leafleting and street theatre ‘ The Computer Says NO’ an adaptation of a Brighton Benefit Campaign play.
After a previous successful demonstration outside ATOS, Flowers Hill, voicing our dissent at the way this Government is attacking the most vulnerable in our society and using ATOS as a way of doing it, we are asking you join us for another demonstration between 3.30-5.30 Thursday 12th May 2011 outside ATOS, Flowers Hill, Brislington.
Disability Benefits Building, St Agnes Street, Gabalfa, Cardiff
As part of the National Week of Action against Benefit Cuts and Atos Origin kicking off on Monday 9th of May, we will be staging a protest outside the Disability Benefits Building at St. Agnes road, Gabalfa, Cardiff.
Bring music, drums, banners, placards, snacks to share and brighten up the faceless corporate wasteland that is the Benefits Building!
Medway Against the Cuts (MAC) will be holding a protest picket of the ATOS Testing Centre at 1a Batchelor St Chatham between 12 and 2pm on Friday 13th May. Medway Against the Cuts can be contacted at medway-against-the email@example.com
Some autonomous claimants plan to attend and will be meeting up with WinVisible at 11.30 on Victoria Embankment at the corner of Derby Gate SW1. The march will go past Parliament towards Millbank, ending at Dean Stanley St. The nearest tube station is Westminster. Bring anti-atos placards, leaflets etc
11 May · 17:00 – 18:30 Grey’s Monument Newcastle Coalition of Resistance supporters will be at Monument from 5pm on Wednesday 11th May in support of ‘Rights not Charity’, supporting campaigns by benefit claimants and disabled people facing cuts to benefits.
11:00AM Monday, May 9th
Day of action against ATOS origin and Office Angels / Adecco
Meet at 11am outside Office Angels (located in the city centre past the right lion. Next door to MAC and opposite The Square bar/club)
Plymouth Claimants Union will be demonstrating outside the Atos Origin Argosy House , Marsh Mills , medical centre in Plymouth from 11.00 am Monday 9th May. Free transport from city centre. Cntact firstname.lastname@example.org
There is now a Cornwall DPAC group formed which may be contacted at email@example.com We are holding a protest day in Truro and going to the ATOS office. Meet outside Weatherspoons in Lemon Quay at 10.30am on Wednesday May 11.
 In the USA the term ‘people with disabilities’ equates with the UK’s ‘people with impairments’.