Campaigners bid to block the cuts

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, right, with Neil Foster, left, from the Northern TUC, and Pam and Phil Lennon, from The Northumberland Low Vision Action Group. Picture by Amanda Hannen
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, right, with Neil Foster, left, from the Northern TUC, and Pam and Phil Lennon, from The Northumberland Low Vision Action Group. Picture by Amanda Hannen
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DISABILITY campaigners attended a public meeting in Ashington last week to highlight the impact of government spending cuts.

The meeting in Ashington Leisure Centre was 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.

The latter is campaigning to stop cuts to the disability living allowance (DLA); improve the work capability assessment; support those who cannot work through the employment and support allowances; and to block cuts to vital services for the disabled.

They are also urging ministers to ensure that the Universal Credit system allows for the additional costs of living with a disability, when it is introduced.

Speakers at the event included disability campaigner Claire Parker and Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery.

The meeting was chaired by Neil Foster, policy and campaigns officer at the Northern TUC.

A wide range of disability campaigners talked about their personal experiences of the cuts and planned changes to disability support.

Ms Parker, who is partially-sighted and a graduate in health and social care, 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.”

Mr Foster added: “The inaugural meeting was a great success with more than 60 people in attendance and sharing their personal stories and perspectives.

“When people experience first hand the consequences of the government’s savage cuts and ill-advised changes it can feel very isolating.

“These meetings are about listening and offering mutual solidarity and support.”