Thousands march for the Hardest Hit
Monday 24 October 2011
Protests against cuts affecting disabled people take place across the UK
Thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday (22 October) for ‘Hardest Hit’ protests against cuts to benefits and services affecting disabled people.
The Hardest Hit campaign is run by the UK Disabled People’s Council and the Disability Benefits Consortium. It supported protests in 12 cities, including Cardiff, Brighton, Manchester, Newcastle, London, Birmingham and Belfast. They followed a Hardest Hit march in London on 11 May, which attracted about 8,000 people.
The events highlighted cuts to local services and the changes to benefits planned in the Welfare Reform Bill. Many disabled people are facing cuts to benefits including Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment and Support Allowance.
In Manchester, protesters from Mencap, Liverpool Mencap and Manchester Mencap were supported by Coronation Street actresses Julie Hesmondhalgh, Ali Briggs and Cherylee Houston (pictured, top).
In Leeds, more than 400 people joined the protests (pictured, below). Paul Williams, a carer with a learning disability who lives in Leeds, was one of five disabled speakers.
He said: “I am on a very low income. I can only manage because I get the lower rate of DLA, which is about £150 a month. My monthly fuel bill eats up most of the DLA. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t gamble. I don’t have a car. I don’t go abroad. I don’t buy new things. One week out of four I run out of money to buy food and I just have to get by until some money comes in. I am already poor. I couldn’t survive without DLA.”
Mencap Cymru’s director, Wayne Crockert, joined the protest in Cardiff. He said: “The most vulnerable disabled groups are being hit hardest by reforms designed to combat benefit fraud and ‘simplify’ the benefit system. We believe that the UK government should rethink its benefit changes so that disabled people are not penalised.”
Find out more about the Hardest Hit campaign