IT IS NOW just one year since the Independent Living Fund (ILF) was abolished and the responsibility for supporting people with disabilities to live an independent life was handed over to local authorities to administer on a means-tested basis as PIP (personal independence payments).
These required case-by-case assessments making them expensive to administer and funding was not ring-fenced. Claimants have found themselves lucky to get half the support they used to get, and many have lost jobs and personal independence as a result.
The Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) campaign has marked the sad anniversary with a busy Week of Action and the publication of One Year On: a report into the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund by Inclusion London.
The Week of Action is also timed to coincide with the start of the Paralympics in Brazil.
The Paralympic Games also gives a false impression that the disabled in Britain are well supported. The reality is that at the end of last year Britain became the first country in the world to be investigated by the United Nations for grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights.
This is as a direct result of the disproportionate impact of austerity on disabled people and ideological attacks waged by the Tory government that have seen Disabled people and the poorest members of society hit by cut after cut after cut.
In 2012 DPAC in partnership with UK Uncut were able to use the media interest around the London Paralympics to draw attention to the disgraceful practices of Atos, one of the Paralympic sponsors and the company responsible for carrying out the notorious Work Capability Assessment (WCA) that has caused so much harm and suffering.
Two years later Atos pulled out of the contract to run the WCA, which had become unworkable because of the success of the campaign against them.
Now DPAC is using the interest surrounding the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio to draw attention to the cumulative impact of the cuts on Disabled people that are taking Disabled people’s rights back decades with attacks in every area of our lives, from education to independent living to employment to income.
DPAC is not protesting against the Games themselves but is using this opportunity to raise awareness of the increasing numbers of Disabled people whose access not only to sport and recreation but also to basic human rights, such support to eat, drink and use the toilet, is being taken away as a result of the cuts.
The Week of Action events have included:
- · Sunday 4th September: An Art4Rights Exhibition of art by disabled people, organised in conjunction with the union PCS Culture Sector and other allies.
- · Monday 5th September: No ILF, No Life – a lobby of the House of Commons and the launch of One Year On: a report into the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund by Inclusion London. To be followed by: Right2IL Pop-Up Street Theatre with the DPAC crew for a unique show paying homage to Independent Living.
- · Tuesday 6th September: RightsNotGames – DPAC called on campaigners across Britain to come out onto the streets in protest against the many different cuts and attacks, with campaigners choosing local targets reflecting the issues that are affecting Disabled people locally.
- · Wednesday 7th September: “No More Benefit Deaths #CutsKill” at noon outside Downing Street – a gathering to remember the victims of welfare reform during the first Prime Minister’s Questions after Parliament comes back from recess.
- · Wednesday 7th September: “RightsNotGames” virtual protest that started at 9.30pm to coincide with the Paralympics opening ceremony – with campaigners invited from across the world to join DPAC in a virtual protest against the disproportionate impact of global austerity on Deaf and Disabled people using a ground-breaking online tool developed for us by students at the Royal College of Arts.
- · London Saturday 10th September: one-day conference: DPAC Disabled People’s Resistance: building beyond borders #GlobalResistance. DPAC says: “Join us for a one-day conference bringing together perspectives and allies in the fight against austerity and neo-liberalism from the UK, Europe and Canada to look at geographic resistance and independent living.”
- · Sunday 11th September: Assisted Suicide: The Musical – to celebrate the end of the week of action we will be kicking back and enjoying this play by writer/actor/activist Liz Carr, which is being performed at the Southbank Centre on 10th and 11th September. For more information go to: http://unlimited.southbankcentre.co.uk/events/assisted-suicide-the-musical