Trade unions and campaigners begin series of events to defend the ‘hardest hit'

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date: 20 July 2011

embargo: for immediate release

A public meeting to address how disabled people are being affected by the Government's spending cuts and proposed benefits changes will take place on Thursday 21st July at 6.30pm at the Bothal Suite, Ashington Leisure Centre, Institute Road, Ashington. It is the first of a series of joint meetings between the Northern Public Services Alliance and The Hardest Hit Campaign in the run up to a regional rally in the autumn.

Speakers include disability campaigner Claire Parker and Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, who has worked with a range of charities on behalf of disabled people in Parliament. The meeting will be chaired by Neil Foster, Policy and Campaigns Officer at the Northern TUC. A wide range of disability campaigners will talk about their different personal experiences of the cuts and planned changes to disability support. Chief among Hardest Hit campaigners' demands are:

The Government must not cut Disability Living Allowance

The Government must improve the Work Capability Assessment to ensure that it is fair and effective and ensure that the Employment and Support Allowances supports those who cannot work

There should be no cuts to services vital to disabled people

Ministers must ensure that upon its introduction the Universal Credit must recognise and allow for the additional costs of living with a disability.

Claire Parker, a partially-sighted campaigner recently travelled down to London to take part in a national 'Hardest Hit' march and rally. Over 8,000 people were involved in what is regarded as the biggest protest led by disabled people in British history. Claire is a graduate in health and social care and is particularly worried about employment issues. She said:

'I'm looking to get employed and I'm concerned about the changes to benefits. I'd really like to get some training and practical experience to help me be more attractive to prospective employers. It's vital that disabled people are given independence but the Government's plans are only going to make things worse. It's vital we pull together to fight these changes and stop the cuts to DLA."

Northern TUC Policy and Campaigns Officer, Neil Foster added:

'When people experience firsthand the consequences of the Government's savage cuts and ill-advised changes it can feel very isolating. Thursday's meeting is about listening and offering mutual solidarity and support. The trade union movement is wholeheartedly behind disability charities who are challenging these appalling proposals from Government. We will continue to highlight the extreme unfairness that disabled people, along with many other of society's most vulnerable, should be the hardest hit from a global banking crisis which they did play any part in.'


Future events will take place in Sunderland, Newcastle, South Shields, Middlesbrough, Wallsend and Durham. Dates to be confirmed.

Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty:

The Northern Public Services Alliance

The Northern Public Services Alliance is the trade union-led campaign across the North East and Cumbria to defend public services and campaign to alternatives to savage spending cuts.

The Hardest Hit campaign

The Hardest Hit campaign is organised jointly by the Disability Benefits Consortium and the UK Disabled People's Council and is supported by Action Duchenne, Action for Blind People, Action for M.E., Age UK, Arthritis Care, Breast Cancer Care, Broken of Britain, Carer Watch, Carers UK, Changing Perspectives, Child Poverty Action Group, Citizens Advice, Clic Sargent, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Deafblind UK, Disability Alliance, Disability Awareness in Action, Disability Wales, Elizabeth FitzRoy Support, Epilepsy Society, Every Disabled Child Matters, Guide Dogs, Haemophilia Society, Hammersmith and Fulham Against Care Cuts, Hampshire CIL, Inclusion Scotland, LASA, Leaning Disability Coalition, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Macmillan Cancer Support, Mencap, Meningitis Research Foundation, Mind, Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association, MS Society, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, NCIL, National AIDS Trust, National Autistic Society (NAS), National Deaf Children's Society, Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, Parkinson's UK, Public and Commercial Services Union, People First Ltd, Rethink, Royal Association for Disability Rights (RADAR), Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), RSI Action, Scope, Sense, Skill, Spinal Injuries Association, Sue Ryder, Transport for All, TUC, United Response, Vitalise, Where's the benefit?

For further information contact Neil Foster (Northern TUC) on 07786 717972 or Henri Murison (RNIB) on 07762 175039

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Media contacts:

Kevin Rowan, Northern TUC Regional Secretary T: 0191 227 5565; M: 07766250074; E: [email protected]

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