Disability cuts protest closes London's Westminster Bridge with police making multiple arrests.
A group from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) blocked the bridge for several hours on Wednesday, in protest against government cuts to disability benefits.
Protesters held large banners reading “No more deaths from benefit cuts.” The protest was met with a heavy police presence, which eventually broke it up and at least two people were arrested.
DPAC said about 150 people, many in wheelchairs, attended the protest to call for better financial support. The protest also drew attention to the treatment of disabled athletes at the Paralympics’ games in Rio.
On its website, DPAC claimed in 2015 that the UK became the firstcountry in the world to be investigated by the United Nations for grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights.
"This is as a direct result of the disproportionate impact of austerity on disabled people and ideological attacks waged by the Tory government that have seen disabled people and the poorest members of society hit by cut after cut after cut.”
Another DPAC official said the protest had formed part of a week of action to highlight changes to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) to help people aged 16 to 64 cope with extra costs, as well as significant cuts of up to £30 per week for some people who claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
"It's the opening of the Paralympics tonight and we're celebrating all the athletes, but the cuts that they're [the government] bringing through are meaning other peoples' lives are going dramatically backwards," Ellen Clifford said.
There are almost half a million sick and disabled people receiving the ESA benefit; these people are likely to be unemployed for longer than other jobseekers who are not struggling with disabilities or health difficulties.
Last year, the United Nations launched an inquiry into whether the UK government’s welfare cuts led to rights abuses and death of more than 2,000 disabled Britons.
This came after the Department of Work and Pensions revealed that 2,380 people have died within six weeks of being declared "fit to work" by the government between 2011 and 2014.