Yesterday DPAC ‘Disabled People Against Cuts’ staged a Bedroom Tax peaceful protest outside the 5 bed mansion of Iain Duncan Smith.
Hundreds of people are protesting over the bedroom tax and benefits cap at Lord Freud’s £1.9million home and 20 disabled activists are staging a protest at Iain Duncan Smith’s country mansion in Buckinghamshire worth more than £2million.
The protest was called by UK Uncut, the anti-cuts direct action network, who promised that they would ‘bring resistance to the homes of high profile politicians pushing the cuts’. Lord Freud, the Tory peer and former investment banker, has spearheaded the bedroom tax, cuts to the Welfare State and the introduction of the Universal Credit. He also has an eight-bedroom mansion in Kent.
The disabled activists, from Disabled People Against the Cuts, have presented Iain Duncan Smith with an eviction notice at his five-bedroom, 16th century house which includes a swimming pool in Swanbourne. IDS has presided over the implementation of unprecedented cuts of the Welfare State which are hitting disabled people particularly hard. It’s recently emerged that 17,000 blind people will be hit by the bedroom tax. Houses are likely to have been specially adapted and blind people are particularly isolated if they are forced to move to new areas which they do not know how to get around.
At the London protest at Lord Freud’s house, an estimated 400 people attended the protest where children were read a Freudian bedtime story, a removal van unloaded sofas and an eviction notice was served. UK Uncut supporter Sarah Knight whose mother is losing money because of the Bedroom Tax said: “My mum has just found out that she will have to pay the bedroom tax. My family is terrified about what’s going to happen. People’s hearts are being broken as this government is turning Thatcher’s wildest dreams into a nightmarish reality. But this protest is not about Thatcher’s death, it’s about the ongoing assault on the welfare state.
“I am too young to remember Thatcher as a Prime Minister but people like me are having our childhoods and now adult lives decimated by this government that continues to punish poorer people to improve the lives of the rich – the bedroom tax is the latest example of this. And that’s why I’m here today – it’s made me really happy that we are resisting these devastating cuts, showing we will not stand for it.”
From outside Ian Duncan Smith’s country mansion Disabled People Against the Cuts activist Eric Robson said: “This month sees the latest round of government attacks on disabled people. Two out of three homes affected by the bedroom tax have disabled people living in them, the beginning of the end for DLA, council tax changes, no legal aid for benefit appeals and the ongoing discredited WCAs mean millions of disabled people will be poorer – and still have the same barriers to work and society. There is no strategy in place to address this except forced labour and sanctions. Yet hundreds of millions are handed to profiteers like Atos and Capita to make this happen.
“We are calling on this government to stop this war on benefit claimants, public services and low paid workers. We are calling on our communities, disabled and non-disabled people, workers and claimants, unemployed people, single mothers, pensioners, students and everyone who cares about social justice to oppose these cuts. We will not be written out of the story of our own lives.”
Isabel Young, who works with vulnerable women said in a speech to the crowd “A room for foster children or teenagers or a disabled partner might be spare for people who live in mansions but not for anyone else. People are being forced to pay £14 a week for having this room, again this may be spare cash in the pockets of millionaire politicians, but it is the difference between adequately feeding a family and staying warm, and for some it will mean choosing between a hostel or the streets.”