Campaigners join demo to fight Government’s benefit cuts

The Hardest Hit group make their feelings known during the rally in London at the weekend.
The Hardest Hit group make their feelings known during the rally in London at the weekend.
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CAMPAIGNERS have promised to keep fighting the Government’s benefit cuts after joining a demonstration in London.

Wearsiders were among tens of thousands who took part in the TUC’s A Future That Works protest.

They marched from Embankment, along Whitehall and into Hyde Park for a rally on Saturday that included speeches from union leaders and Labour’s Ed Miliband.

During Prime Minister’s Question Time, David Cameron labelled the unions as the Leader of the Opposition’s “paymasters” and said the protest must be the “most expensive sponsored walk in history”.

Groups at the event included one known as The Hardest Hit, which included blind and partially-sighted people who fear next year’s reforms to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA )will take away their independence.

Elaine Lithgoe, 56, from Seaburn, said: “We need to keep knocking on that door

“It’s hard to keep this momentum going there’s so much negativity, but you can only try.

“I don’t think any government has any answers. It just seems to get progressively worse.”

Claire Parker, 31, from Hendon, added: “It was a great turnout and it’s been great to be here and play a part in it.”

Peter Carling, 46, from Pennywell, said: “It’s been fantastic, the noise was unbelievable.

“We are hoping for a big impact and hopefully the Government will listen.”

Disabled Liz Highmore, 59, from Red House, said politicians had been quick to praise Great Britain’s paralympians, but said: “What they don’t understand is a lot of disabled people have to exert the same Herculian effort just to survive.”

The group was joined by Sunderland councillor Dave Allan, who is also chairman of union Unite’s regional disability committee.

He said: “I came down last year and the reason I am coming again this year is to put pressure on the Government.

“It’s also about people who are hurting expressing their views democratically.”

The Hardest Hit leader Henri Murison claimed that benefits changes will stigmatise people who rely on them for things able-bodied people take for granted.

“DLA is their right and it is not a handout, but they carry on like it is some huge gift to disabled people.

“The Government’s argument is they are protecting the most vulnerable people, but they are not.”

The PCS union also enjoyed support from Sunderland, with members arguing the austerity programme is having a damaging impact on working families.

Judith Leighton, 49, said: “My daughter can’t go to university because of the rising costs.

“That was our ambition for her and now what can she do?

“You just work until you die now.”

Grace Ballerby added: “I don’t think it is fair that the normal working people are being asked to pay for the mistakes of the bankers.”

Liam Byrne praised campaigners who travelled from Sunderland to the capital.

The Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary met activists from The Hardest Hit movement during the rally at Hyde Park and thanked them for making the trip south.

He said: “I just don’t think people have woken up to just how many people it is going to effect and this at a time when they are giving tax cuts to millionaires. Thank you for coming and trying to wake the country up.”

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