Opposition to the government's Welfare Reform Bill reached a new level this morning, when campaigners dressed as bankers took over the lobby of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Adelphi House, central London.
Carrying banners reading “target the rich, not the poor” and “stop the Welfare Abolition Bill” the protesters peacefully occupied part of the building before being forcibly removed.
The Welfare Reform Bill has faced criticism from faith groups, trades unions and human rights organisations, with Church Action on Poverty (CAP) predicting that it will “force people deeper into poverty”.
Campaigners oppose the Bill's provisions for reducing significantly the entitlement to benefit of disabled people and single parents. They also criticise moves towards a US-style “work for benefits” scheme.
This morning's protest included members of the London Coalition Against Poverty, the Disabled People's Direct Action Network and Feminist Fightback. It marked a Week of Action against the Bill, which faces its third reading in Parliament on 17th March.
“They threw us out of the building today,” said Anne-Marie O'Reilly, who pointed out that the Bill was designed by ex-banker David Freud, “We think it's time they really throw the bankers and their interests out of Whitehall and stop penalising poor people, disabled people and single mothers.”
Church Action on Poverty recently argued that “cutting benefits will drive people further into poverty and have a serious impact on children who have no power to do anything about the situation”.
Along with other groups, they have set up a petition against the proposals, which can be found at: http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/news/welfareforall .