Here's hoping that the release of the second Spartacus Report in the UK proves to be as significant as the first Spartacus Report (released in January 2012) which generated a huge groundswell of opposition to the Cameron Government's welfare reform package for people with disabilities, and resulted in Parliamentary defeats for the Cameron Government (the website of the We are Spartacus Campaign is here)
The second Spartacus Report released this week is described as a People's Report and analyses the failures of the Government’s Work Capability Assessment and the Employment & Support Allowance system for people with disabilities.
The first Spartacus Report was a social policy and social justice landmark. It demonstrated the power of an authentic grassroots campaign organized and run by people most directly affected by welfare reform. Rather than attempt to work "inside and with Government and political parties" the campaign directly resisted and challenged Government policy.
The first Spartacus report was written and researched by a group of people with disabilities as part of a grassroots campaign to challenge and reverse a key social policy reform. The report and campaign grew out of the online support networks that sprung up as people’s right to much needed DLA was removed by the government.
The campaign used a wide variety of tactics – with a particular focus on social media campaign and direct action – to shift the debate on disability benefits. One significant feature of the Spartacus campaign was the organic nature of its development from a social support network to a formal political campaign.
The first Spartacus Report showed the Cameron Government's lies and evasions and its misleading of the public over plans to reform the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) being paid to people with disabilities and replace it with a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The Report showed that the change would result in significant cuts in benefits and reduction in allowances.
The Spartacus Report exposed the Cameron Government's lies and evasions on the reform and showed that:
- There was overwhelming opposition among people with disabilities and disability groups to the reform
- The Government ignored the majority of consultation feedback it received and concealed the huge amount of opposition to the reforms
- The Government used inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants in order to justify its policy
- The Government broke its own guidelines about consulting with people with disabilities
- The Government ignored advice that the policy breached legislation including the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.