'War on welfare' petition tops 5,000 in less than 48 hours

By staff writers
December 20, 2012

Less than 48 hours after it was launched, more than 5,000 people have signed an e-petition calling for an independent, cumulative assessment of the damage caused by what the UK government calls benefit reforms, but what their critics call a 'war on welfare' (WoW).

The wording of the #WoWpetition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154 was agreed after several weeks' worth of democratic discussion led by disabled and sick people, people with learning and mental health difficulties, their families and carers.

It was launched at 8pm on Tuesday 18 December 2012 by actor, comedian and activist Francesca Martinez, who pointed out that while DLA / ESA benefits cost £25 billion a year, by contrast tax evasion costs the UK over £100 billion annually.

Supporters of the initiative also want a 'new deal' for disabled and sick people, and an end to anti-welfare rhetoric and policies - including a halt to the flawed Work Capability Assessment (WCA), consultation between the Departments of Health and Education to improve support into work for sick and disabled people, and an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits.

In terms of impact assessment, the petition is calling for investigation of care home admission rises, daycare centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, universal mental health treatments and Remploy closures. It wants to know about Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) media links, the details of the ATOS contract, and IT implementation of Universal Credit. Lastly, it seeks information on human rights abuses against disabled people, excess claimant deaths, and the disregarding of medical evidence in decision-making by ATOS, the DWP and the Tribunal Service.

The WOW petition aims to get 100,000 signatures as soon as possible, and to trigger a parliamentary debate on welfare reform and its demands for an independent, committee-based inquiry.

Initiated and run directly by disabled, sick and other vulnerable people, the WOW petition is attracting support from charities, civic and faith groups, and public figures.

The WOWpetition network says it is extremely pleased with the launch and initial response, but stresses that it is vital that the momentum is sustained over the Christmas and New Year period.

The next big target is 10,000 signatories, which will trigger a response from the DWP.

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* View and sign the WOW petition here - http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154

* War on Welfare (WOW) website - www.WOWpetition.com

* WOW on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WoWpetition

* WOW petition latest on Ekklesia - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/WOWpetition

* Call for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of Welfare Reform, and a New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions - http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154

* The petition mirrored on Ekklesia - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17653

* Welfare reform petition campaign elicits huge online response - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17660

* Disabled and sick people should shape policies that impact them - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17655

* People's Review of the Work Capability Assessment (#realWCA) published - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17366

* Responsible Reform: Changes to Disability Living Allowance - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/responsiblereformDLA

* Disability issues on Ekklesia - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/spartacusreport

* On Twitter: #WOWpetition

[Ekk/3]

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