Disabled people urged to continue fight back against the cuts at TUC conference

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date: 23 May 2011

embargo: 00.01hrs Wednesday 25 May 2011

Disabled people will be urged to continue their resistance to the government spending cuts which are hitting every aspect of their lives at the TUC's annual disability conference which begins in London today (Wednesday).

A new TUC briefing - Disabled people fighting the cuts - issued to coincide with the conference reveals the true impact of the government's spending cuts on disabled people, and encourages unions and disabled people to fight back.

The TUC report highlights several key areas of concern, including:

  • Employment: The employment of disabled people is especially vulnerable to public sector job cuts. Between 1998 and 2008 there was a continuous increase in the proportion of disabled people in work. For the first time nearly 50 per cent of working age disabled people were in paid employment. One reason for this was that a higher proportion of disabled people found work within the public sector. With hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs already lost or under threat, disabled people's employment is at risk.
  • Benefits: Changes to benefits and to welfare to work programmes will penalise disabled job seekers. For the millions of disabled people reliant on benefits because they cannot work or are no longer of working age, reforms such as the abolition of the disability living allowance and changes to carer's allowance will lead to increased poverty for some of the poorest people in the UK.
  • Healthcare: The proposed cuts to NHS budgets will affect most groups in society, but disabled people face significantly reduced provision in areas like mental health services. The False Economy website has uncovered at least 6,300 job losses in 53 mental health services around the UK. Combined with deep cuts in community mental health teams, this will progressively reduce the services available to the many people who desperately rely on them.
  • Transport: Reductions in public transport services and transport subsidies will impact on the ability of disabled people to participate in society, particularly those living in more rural areas.
  • Housing: In addition to some disabled people facing the consequences of the cap on housing benefit imposed in the 2010 budget, the Supporting People programme - which has paid for disabled and elderly people to live independently - has also been severely affected by cuts.
  • Safety: The government's propaganda in support of its benefit reduction plans has led to a campaign against 'scroungers' and a surge in disability hate crime, while at the same time cuts to police budgets threaten to turn back progress made in recent years in challenging such attacks.

The TUC report also suggests ways that unions can help disabled people challenge the cuts, both in the workplace and the wider community.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'This report shows just how hard some of the most vulnerable members of our society have been hit by the government's deep spending cuts.

'But a fightback is taking place and unions have a key role to play. Thousands of disabled people joined the TUC March for the Alternative earlier this year, and many more took part in the Hardest Hit march and rally on 11 May - the largest demonstration by disabled people for decades.'

Speakers at the two-day disability conference at Congress House include TUC Assistant General Secretary Kay Carberry, Anne Begg MP, Stephen Brookes from the NUJ disability hate crime network, and John McArdle from the Black Triangle anti-defamation campaign in defence of disabled peoples' rights.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- Disabled people fighting the cuts is available at www.tuc.org.uk/tucfiles/21/disabled_people_fighting_cuts.pdf

- The TUC disability conference is from 11am on Wednesday 25 May until 5.30pm on Thursday 26 May, at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS. For more information please contact Peter Purton on ppurton@tuc.org.uk or 020 7467 1271.

- Visit the False Economy website at www.falseeconomy.org.uk

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: egibson@tuc.org.uk

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