10 Thousands Cuts & Counting

  • 10 Thousands Cuts & Counting is a memorial for those who have had their lives devastated by the austerity programme, including more than 10,000 people who died shortly after undergoing the Atos Work Capability Assessment, the degrading test used by the government to assess the needs of people receiving benefits related to disability and ill health.
  • The gathering will demand an immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association, and a New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions.
28th September • Parliament Square (TBC), London • 12 noon
Disabled people are leading the fight back against the injustices of austerity: we cannot stand idly by while our communities and institutions are devastated by this government.
On Saturday 28th September, the community will gather to demand an end to the government’s austerity assault which is particularly affects disabled people.
The memorial will remember those who have died and those living who are having their independence and dignity challenged as a result of austerity, led by disability activists, Occupy activists, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Michael Meacher MP and other representatives.
A delegation from the gathering will present to the Prime Minister The Downing Street Demand, in support of 53,000 people who have already signed the WOW Petition, which calls for an immediate end to degrading way in which the government assesses the support needs given to valuable people in our community and a New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions.

Who and why

We are a coalition of disabled people, Occupy London supporters, and individuals campaigning to end the government's attacks on disabled people. We are supported by a number of groups and representatives.
Understanding the Effects of Austerity
Why are we calling on the government to end its austerity attack on disabled people?
  •  Disabled people are paying back 9 times more than non-disabled people through cuts, and those with the highest support needs are paying back 19 times more. (Duffy, 2013: 7)
  • Hate crimes against disabled people have risen alarmingly over recent years due to ‘benefit scrounger’ propaganda. Recorded crime figures doubled between 2008 when records began and 2011. (Guardian, 2012)
  • Despite this cynical campaign against disabled people the government’s own statistics show that only 0.5% of claimants of disability related benefits are acting fraudulently. And for every pound in fraudulent benefit claimed, £17 of benefits goes unclaimed and is returned by the DWP to the government. (Duffy, 2013: 28)
What's wrong with Atos and the Work Capability Assessment?
 Between January 2011 and November 2011, 10,600 people died during or within six weeks of being put through the Atos Work Capability Assessment.  (DWP, 2012: 6)
 For some of these people the assessment contributed directly to their deaths and, for the rest, they were made to endure the indignity of stressful and humiliating tests during the final weeks of their lives.
 The Atos Work Capability Assessment decides people's entitlement based on a tick-box system that is unable to assess complex impairments and mental health issues.
  •  40% of assessments are overturned after they are appealed, with the success rate rising to 70% for those who take up legal representation - proving it costly, inaccurate and ineffective. (BMA, 2012)
  • The British Medical Association has demanded that the WCA should end "with  immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause unavoidable harm" (BMA, 2012)
  • 10,000 is the tip of an iceberg. Perhaps most concerning is that the full extent of the problem is unknown. The fate of those who have been found fit for work, and therefore left the benefit system, is not recorded.
The Atos Work Capability Assessments are just part of much wider attack on the idea that most people in Britain support: that we should build a community which meets the needs of all.
Disability Living Allowance
DLA is not an out of work benefit. In fact, it supports countless thousands of disabled people to remain in work. The government expects a 20% reduction of claimants when the changeover to PIP (Personal Independence Payments) happens, meaning many will have to give up their jobs and lose other vital support at home. (Scope, 13 July 2011)
Bedroom Tax
 The Bedroom Tax cuts to housing benefit have caused national outrage. It affects not just disabled people but many others who should be entitled to the support of the community.
 This tax threatens to make thousands of the poorest in society homeless and two-thirds of households affected have disabled people living in them. (DWP, 2012: Section 43)
 With several councils having already committed to no evictions on the Bedroom Tax, other councils are looking at ways around the problem and ways to reclassify properties to avoid making tenants homeless.
The Independent Living Fund supports the most severely disabled people to live in the community and access the same opportunities that non-disabled people have. The ILF will be permanently shut from April 2015 leaving disabled people in despair about their futures. Since the closure of the ILF to new applicants in December 2010 there has been a marked increase in inequality and oppression with support  packages that do no more than feed, water and maintain disabled people effectively trapped in their homes. This is inhumane and in clear breach of disabled people’s fundamental human rights. The permanent closure of the ILF signals the end of disabled people’s right to independent living.
This is what austerity looks like. Come and join us.

Duffy, S. (2013) A Fair Society: How the cuts target disabled people, [Online], Available:http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/uploads/attachment/354/a-fair-society.pdf [21 Apr 2013].
Guardian (2012) Disability hate crime: is 'benefit scrounger' abuse to blame? [Online], Available:http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/14/disability-hate-crime-benefit-scrounger-abuse [14 August 2012]
DWP (2012) Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of recipients [Online], Available:http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/adhoc_analysis/2012/incap_decd_recips_0712.pdf. [9 July 2012]
BMA (2012) Scrap work capability assessment, doctors demand [Online], Available: http://bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/2012/june/scrap-work-capability-assessment-doctors-demand [28 June 2012]
DWP (2012) Housing Benefit: Size Criteria for People Renting in the Social Rented Sector [Online] Available:https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/174973/eia-social-sector-housing-under-occupation-wr2011.pdf.pdf section 43 [June 2012]
Test for new £6 billion disability payment is flawed, Scope [Online] [13 July 2011], Available: http://www.scope.org.uk/news/personal-independence-payment [21 Apr 2013]

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