Protest held in Sheffield against cuts in Universal Credits for the disabled
Sheffield activists have staged a protest in line a national day of action against cuts to the Universal Credits benefits system.
Members of Disabled People Against Cuts joined together yesterday outside Sheffield City Hall to protest against 'hidden cuts' they believe will come from the Governments bid to combine six different benefits into one Universal Credit.
It follows previous action taken by the group against 'austerity' policies first introduced by a Conservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition government in 2010 and and then by a solo Conservative government from 2015.
They say that these cuts have proved a massive burden on the disabled community, more than any other group in society.
This is backed up in a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year which said that the cuts made by Government's tax and benefit reforms have hit disabled people nine times harder than the rest of society, and for the severely disabled 19 times more.
In 2016, a report by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities also said there had been 'systematic violations' of disabled people's rights.
At the time however the Government disputed the claims and findings of the report, as Damian Green, who was the Work and Pensions Secretary in 2016 said it was “patronising and offensive” and presented an outdated view of disability in the UK. He said Britain was “a world leader in disability rights and equality”.
Nonetheless, the DPAC Sheffield have previously carried out a series of protests ranging from online actions to acts of civil disobedience such as occupying the lobby of the House Of Commons and blocking off Westminster Bridge and show no signs of stopping.
DPAC Sheffield is one of 26 autonomous regional groups spread across the nation and has taken part in over 100 events in the last five years.
Jennifer Jones, one of DPAC Sheffield’s founders. said: "We've supported train staff, food workers, DWP job centre workers and even junior doctors. It’s important to show solidarity to other people that are struggling."
"Anyone can join DPAC as a member or ally. Carers are welcome and we value the plethora of support that we have amassed but decisions are made by disabled members. That's important. Nothing about us without us.”
“We don't hold physical meetings as many members can't get to them due to their access needs be they physical , emotional or mental, so we organise things face to face and online."
An anonymous source said that there are usually up to 60 people that turn up for the protests. He said: "To be disabled is sometimes seen as being meek, mild and an easy target. But there has actually been a long history of groups fighting back against indignities imposed on them.
"Of course, disabilities of whatever kind can severely affect a person’s everyday life let alone their ability to take part in campaigns, so social media has proved a godsend."
Speaking on the aim of the most recent protest, he said: "As for the subject of the protest, the Government say that the ongoing move to combine six different benefits into universal credit will simplify the system and no disabled person will lose out."
However Jennifer says: “We believe that not to be the case. Universal Credit has already cost so much more to implement than initially projected and there are many hidden cuts that the unsuspecting public are unfortunately unaware of. It will affect the entire working class.
"We are already beginning to see far reaching levels of poverty that haven't been seen before in many people's living memory. We can act to change that.”
If this is something you feel strongly about, you can message DPAC Sheffield on Twitter or Facebook or email them at [email protected]
You can learn more about DPAC national campaigns at DPAC.uk.net