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Cruellest cuts of all

Photo report by Corinna Lotz and Peter Arkell

Disabled march

Actress Jane Asher denounced government spending cuts to services and benefits for disabled people as “completely barmy and particularly cruel” as she led a demonstration in Westminster yesterday.

Around 5,000 people, many in wheelchairs, helped by carers or accompanied by guide dogs, marched along the Embankment to protest against the torrent of government cuts.

Disabled march

Protesters, some in wheelchairs, had shut down Westminster Bridge during the rush hour before the main march assembled with eight being charged with obstruction.

Disabled march

“Hardest Hit” organisers chose the Coalition’s first anniversary to march on parliament. Over 40 groups representing those affected by disabilities, carers and support organisations were supported by the Communication Workers Union, PCS public services workers and GMB trade unions.

Disabled march

Linda Phear and a group of protesters travelled from Hampshire to the march, to join fellow members and supporters of the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB).

“The cuts are wrong, but it’s not only this government because both governments were aiming for the same thing. They’ve got it wrong trying to replace incapacity benefit with the ESA. They want to force people back to work.”

“I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who is not affected by disability,” Asher said, adding that the cuts were being carried out with a blunt instrument and hit disabled people from every angle.

“I cannot bear the fact that millions are being wasted on aircraft carriers while we are told that cuts have to made to incredibly important lifelines for these people."

Asher is president of three of the disability organisations involved in the march, which was organised by the UK Disabled People’s Council and the Disability Benefits Consortium.

Demonstrators opposed cuts to the Disability Living Allowance which allows disabled people to live independently. They fear that the Employment and Support Allowance, which is replacing incapacity benefit will not have a “fair and effective assessment process”. They denounced cuts to day care, transport and respite care services.

12 May 2011

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