How cuts have affected disabled people, carers and their families
What is WOW?
The WOWpetition campaign began at the end 2012 when several disabled people decided to do something about the austerity Cuts the Torys & LibDems in the Coalition Government were targeting, they believed, disabled people. They set up a petition on the Government’s e-petition website (43154) calling for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of Welfare Reform, and a New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions on the 12th December 2012 and started work.
They campaigned anywhere they could raising people’s awareness of the issues and asking them to sign this petition. Comedian Francesca Martinez discussed this petition on every television show she could get onto, including Loose Women, The Wright Staff and The Jonathan Ross Show.
Over the course of the year we worked closely with many Labour and Green MP’s, speaking at the late Michael Meacher MP’s 10,000 cuts and counting service of remembrance in Parliament Square commemorating the deaths of thousands of disabled people less than 6 months after they had been stripped of their support from the Government. We asked Backbencher John McDonnell MP to present this petition to Parliament which he kindly agreed to and when the petition passed 100,000 signatures on November 30th 2013, with 12 days to spare, Ros Wynne Jones in the Daily Mirror wrote “Wowpetition’s success is an incredible result for Britain’s sick and disabled as they campaign against Tory War on Welfare”. That was exactly what the WOWpetition was about, as under the cover of the Banking Crisis of 2008 the Tories were trying to dismantle the Welfare State in the name of austerity. It seemed their first target was Sick and Disabled People.
We then worked really hard to ensure we got the kind of debate this petition deserved and managed to secure a debate in the main chamber with a vote at the end of it. We worked hard and lobbied but at the end it was all in the hands of our MPs.
You can read the debate here 27 Feb 2014 : Column 423. At the end of this debate this motion was put to the House and Passed.
“That this House calls on the Government to commission an independent cumulative assessment of the impact of changes in the welfare system on sick and disabled people, their families and carers, drawing upon the expertise of the Work and Pensions Select Committee; requests that this impact assessment examine care home admissions, access to day care centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, provision of universal mental health treatments, closures of Remploy factories, the Government’s contract with Atos Healthcare, IT implementation of universal credit, human rights abuses against disabled people, excess deaths of welfare claimants and the disregard of medical evidence in decision-making by Atos, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Tribunals Service; urges the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Education jointly to launch a consultation on improving support into work for sick and disabled people; and further calls on the Government to end with immediate effect the work capability assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association, to discontinue forced work under the threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits and to bring forward legislative proposals to allow a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.”