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National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts.

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Saturday, 16th April 2011 – David Franchi

cut The 14th of April was the third National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts for the UK. In between many other cities, of course London plays an important part being the capital where all the powers are concentrated.

The day of protests affected the French multinational Atos Origin which runs the new work assessment, the right wing Daily Mail newspaper and some local targets. Protests were particularly addressed to Atos Origin, which is running the government’s new fitness for work test for incapacity benefits (IB) that is affecting 1.5 million people across the country, according to the number of letters that has been sent just in the last week. According to the government the Work Capability Assessment will target the people who are fit for work, ending long term unemployment and, above all, spare government money.

A part have been heavily criticised by CAB, the Child Poverty Action Group and others as being ‘unfair’ and ‘not based on medical opinion’, the new assessment at the moment has lost the 70% of the appeals, according to CAB figures, and others are on the same way. However, it is not a real surprise. Though having a good reputation in healthcare technology, Atos previous experiences in managing primary health and care services has been disastrous.

After just three years, the bid was won in 2007, the last 31st of March, Atos had to sign out from a 10 year contract, for unsuccessfully running the St. Paul’s Way surgery in Tower Hamlets. Another target of the 14th April protest was the Daily Mail. According to protesters “The Daily Mail has a long history of abusing and defaming benefit claimants.” In Glasgow the offices of the newspaper have been occupied by a number of activists who told to the journalists to stop telling lies about disabled people. Despite some of the journalists opposed to them, the protesters left peacefully having made their point. Metro journalists in the aside office distinguished themselves from the Daily Mail. The demonstration continued outside supported by some members of the public. The police were called but no one was taken into custody.

 Another target was the Westminster Council in London. As part of the third National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts people gathered outside Westminster City Hall for a protest and mass free food to give away. The Council is planning to stop the soup runs, the places where free food is given to those who are homeless. It will be a criminal offence with a fine of 500 pounds, to sleep on the street or hand out free food to the homeless. The problem with soup runs in the borough has a long history. Particularly in Victoria, are blamed to be source of anti-social behaviour and making of litter and mess. However, according to a London School of Economics research, soup runs provide a safety net by making available food and social contact to those who are unable or unwilling to access other services. There are known gaps and failures in the current support services.

According to protesters the real ‘big issue’ is the coming Olympic Games in 2012, for which the Westminster Council wants to ‘clean’ the streets. The demo was peaceful with no people arrested, despite strong accuses were directed to council members. The ‘French homeopathic treatment’ used to chase ‘foreigners (scroungers) who steal benefits and work’ – according to Mr. Cameron speeches – seems to be not working well and to waste a lot of public money.

Besides, the Prime Minister seems confused accusing the same group (or maybe should say race?), of people to steal work and benefits at the same time, using a language sounding more sensible for the Norman invasions of a thousand years ago. Protests seems to be the unavoidable means for disgruntle people to show their unhappiness with the government policies. It seems demos will not stop and the scenario will worsen in the next months. Demos are planned to be held during the Royal Wedding.

photo[ David Franchi italoeuropeo]

Published for: www.italoeuropeo.com

Direct link: http://www.italoeuropeo.com/global-questions/social/national-day-of-protest-against-benefit-cuts-/


Written by davidfranchi

April 17, 2011 at 1:32 am

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