Disabled people in Birmingham who attended a protest near the Conservative Party conference this week described their anger at the government’s tax cut announcements and fears of further spending cuts.
They were among those who gathered in central Birmingham to ‘protest against the Tory conference’, in a demonstration organized by the TUC and the People’s Assembly.
The protest came ahead of the announcement that Conservative Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng would not be scrapping the top 45 per cent income tax rate after all, which would have helped those with incomes above £150,000.
But the government has also announced it is scrapping the cap on bankers’ bonuses, and there are growing reports of plans for further real-term cuts to public services, including social security, soon after the decade of austerity that led to the pandemic. .
It came as new research showed that 335,000 deaths in Britain between 2012 and 2019 can be linked to austerity cuts to public services and social security.
Jo Winter, one of the disabled people from Birmingham who attended the protest, told Disability News Service (DNS): “There aren’t even words to describe what they could have done.
“What they did was just give tax cuts to the rich and lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses.
“There are so many things they could have done. They could have restored the Universal Credit lift.
“People are frozen and unable to eat. People are just going to die, and they seem completely untouched by it.
“Over the past 12 years of Conservative government, the gap between rich and poor has widened.
“There is no future unless there is a change of government because the level of poverty in this country and the reduction of public services are so entrenched.”
Another disabled protester, Rebecca Jukes, said the government was “clearly not listening” and had even ignored the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund.
She said: “Some of the stories that come to us [from disabled people] are horrible.
She said people with disabilities who need electricity the most are the ones who will pay the most, such as people who have to use medical equipment around the clock.
Jukes said the future of the NHS was a ‘major concern’ for her, especially as she has type 1 diabetes and has heard of people in the US dying because they must ration their insulin.
She said: “The thought of an American-style system terrifies me.
“I think if I was struggling, I can’t imagine how terrified I would be.”
Jae Robinson, who spoke on stage about the deadly impact of the welfare crisis and government spending cuts, said Kwarteng’s mini-budget was “totally obscene”.
She told DNS, “How many people are going to die, because that’s what it comes down to?”
She said she would protest by refusing to pay more than she currently does for her utilities.
She said: “I will just continue to pay what I pay for my bills because I can’t afford to pay anymore.
“Benefit levels are so low – how can people afford to pay their bills? How can they pay for the fuel? how can they pay for the food?
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