On Saturday, demonstrators set up a camp in the grounds of Westminster Abbey to protest against cuts to financial support for disabled people.{jcomments on}

Members of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) pitched tents and said they intended to occupy the green outside the doors of one of Westminster's most recognisable landmarks until 22 July.

They were demonstrating against the government's closure of the Independent Living Fund, which provides support for some 18,000 severely disabled people.

The group claims that the dean of Westminster initially refused their request for permission to stay. They also sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, urging the church not to forcibly remove them from its grounds.

Around 100 protesters began the demonstration, which included around 40 in wheelchairs, but a heavy police presence meant their number dwindled to around 50 people.

The Metropolitan police said that one person was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer as protesters sought to establish a camp and officers resolved to stop them.

Police stood on top of tents in a bid to prevent the demonstrators from pitching them. Some protesters in wheelchairs locked themselves to fences at the site.

They were supported by Labour backbench MP John McDonnell, who said that the government's cuts to welfare were making people "desperate".
"We have had debate after debate in parliament. We have had 100,000 people sign a petition for another and the government refused," he said.

"DPAC took the government to court and won and yet, the government is going back to court to defeat them if they can.

"So, people have got no other option but to take direct action to expose what is going on. That is what is happening here today. It is a peaceful demonstration and I wholeheartedly support it because people are desperate."

McDonnell said that abolishing the Independent Living Fund (ILF) would mean that many disabled people, who he said have "already suffered badly as a result of the cuts", would end up "trapped in their homes".

Read the full story on the BBC website and in the Guardian

Further news and blogs are on the DPAC website


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