WoW campaigner with Labour MP John McDonnell

Campaigners call for a full assessment of the impact of cuts on disabled people

Campaigners call for a full assessment of the impact of cuts on disabled people

Research carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year found the impacts of tax and welfare reform were more negative for families containing at least one disabled person, particularly a disabled child.

A few months earlier, a motion calling for an assessment of the impact of welfare cuts on sick and disabled people was debated in parliament. It was a huge moment for the group of activists who managed to get over 100,000 signatures on an e-petition to secure the debate. But, despite the motion being successfully passed, little has happened since.

Frustrated by the lack of progress, the War on Welfare (WoW) campaign, which was started by a small number of disabled people after a discussion on Twitter, is now launching a second petition. This time they're calling for an assessment of the full impact of cuts to support and social care for disabled people.

The campaign believes the various cuts to welfare and social care since 2010 are having a serious impact on the health of disabled people and pushing many into poverty, and they are calling for this to be urgently assessed.

The group is fronted by the comedian and actress Francesca Martinez, who has cerebral palsy, and it has received support from MPs, celebrities and fellow activists.

Martinez says the cuts have had a devastating impact and have left many people fearing for the future.

"We need to show the government that their continued attacks on disabled people and carers cannot go unchallenged. Anyone can become disabled or a carer at any time, so it is vital that we all get involved in ensuring that the human rights of every person – no matter what their ability – are protected."

A report by The Centre for Welfare Reform, which was referenced by MPs during the commons debate says disabled people in poverty bear a burden four times greater than that of the average citizen. 

"There is no doubt that disabled people have been hit hardest by a range of different cuts," the author of the report Dr Simon Duffy says.

"There has been no similar sustained attack on the lives and well being of disabled people since the creation of the welfare state. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the government continues to refuse to carry out a full analysis of its own policies."

Like the first time around, this new petition is garnering a lot of attention. Both the SNP and Plaid Cymru have backed the campaign and high profile politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn and Natalie Bennett have also lent their support.

The Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell, led the initial debate in parliament.

"In that debate and all the time since, the government has not only refused to publish any overall assessment of the impact of the policies on disabled people but it has also covered up what information it does hold," he says.

Whether the government will buckle and finally provide the information remains to be seen but if the petition proves as successful as it was last time, it will certainly be difficult to ignore.