Radio Sandwell News

Anti-cuts protesters block welfare minister's road

2013-04-13 20:26:51

Up to 300 anti-cuts protesters - some posing as removal men - blocked a road outside the north London home of welfare minister Lord Freud earlier.

Organiser UK Uncut said he had "spearheaded" policies including cuts in housing benefits for those with spare bedrooms.

Campaigners also protested outside Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith's house in Swanbourne, Bucks.

His department said welfare reforms would "help people back into work".

UK Uncut had earlier promised it would "bring resistance to the home of high-profile politicians pushing the cuts".

Relaxed mood

The BBC's Andy Moore said protesters had marched through the streets of north London before setting up camp outside Lord Freud's home.

There had been street theatre, leaflets handed out and the mood was relaxed, our correspondent added.

They carried "evicted" banners as well as those bearing slogans including "Tories against the tax", as police officer looked on.

The group said supporters of its "who wants to evict a millionaire?" day of protest had travelled to Lord Freud's house to deliver a mock eviction notice.

Kizzy Knight, 25, said she was "extremely worried" that her mother and younger brother could end up homeless because they would be losing benefit as a result of the "bedroom tax" cuts.

"She will end up spending around £700 a year on the bedroom tax or maybe forced to move," she said.

"At the moment, she's really not sure if she's going to be able to afford it."

Families living in council or housing association accommodation who are deemed to have one spare bedroom will now lose 14% of their housing benefit, while those with two or more spare bedrooms will lose 25%.

UK Uncut said more than 20 protesters with disabilities, from the Disabled People Against the Cuts group, had also "presented Iain Duncan Smith" with an eviction notice at his house in Swanbourne.

A new benefit called the personal independence payment (PIP) was introduced earlier this month for people of working age to replace disability living allowance (DLA).

The changes are expected to reduce spending by about £2.2bn by 2015-16, with one fifth of current DLA claimants expected to be ineligible for PIP.

Iain Duncan Smith has previous said that the current "ridiculous" system where people were given benefit with no further checks must end.

There are currently 3.3m people claiming DLA, compared to 1.1m when it was introduced in 1992.

According to UK Uncut's Twitter feed, there were also protests outside Chancellor George Osborne's office in Knutsford, Cheshire, as well is in Brixton, London, and Birmingham.

The Department for Work and Pensions said welfare reforms would help people to find employment which would "benefit the economy more than simply abandoning them to claim benefits year after year".

"These changes are essential to keep the benefits bill sustainable so that we can continue to support people when they need it most across the UK," a spokesperson said.

"People who disagree with these reforms have a right to express their views but only if they do so within the law."


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