Here’s some good news for a change – well sort of. ATOS the French IT and benefits testing company is pulling out of its contract. Atos Healthcare the firm responsible for testing disabled people’s benefit claims – Employment and Support allowance ESA – with “fitness for work” tests – Work Capability Assessments WCA – wants to pull out of its £500 million contract with the government early.
The bad news is of course the government and the DWP will find an equally unethical alternative. Nonetheless the news is welcomed. Maybe it heralds the beginning of the demise of the government’s highly unjust welfare reforms.
This week ATOS offices around the country were besieged by demonstrators in 140 actions up and down the country and maybe this has them worried about their reputation. I doubt whether the reason cited – death threats to staff in person and on-line – has little to do with their decision. If they are prepared to deny genuinely sick and disabled people benefits and plunge them into poverty and deprivation as a result of their grossly, and I might add deliberately, unfair assessments I doubt very much they would have any qualms about death threats issued to their staff.
Read Work Test Whistleblower’s article examining Atos’ announcement
Atos Throws In The Towel
Thanks to the Work Test Whistleblower for posting this article examining Atos’ sudden announcement today that it is pulling out of the Work Capability Assessment Program early.
Yesterday afternoon, the Financial Times announced that Atos wants to pull out of the WCA programme.
Here are the nuggets I picked out.
The unfair assessment conducted by ATOS has plunged sick and disabled people into poverty, and destitution, hopelessness and despair. It is not only the physical privation of having no money, no means to pay rent, heat your home or buy food it is also the psychological damage. Thousands have committed suicide and many have died shortly after being found fit to work.
Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, condemned the assessment as a “humiliating and demeaning” process which “makes sick people even sicker”.
According to government figures 1,300 people have died after being told they should start preparing to go back to work, and another 2,200 had died before their assessment was complete. I rather imagine the figures are much higher – 10,600 sick & disabled people died last year within six weeks of their claim ending:
Labour MP Michael Meacher described the death of a young man with epilepsy shortly after he was classified fit for work and saw his benefit cut by £70 a week.
“He became agitated and depressed and lost weight, fearing that he could not pay his rent or buy food. Three months later, he had a major seizure that killed him,”
“A month after he died, the DWP [Department of Work and Pensions] rang his parents to say that it had made a mistake and his benefit was being restored.”
“Is it reasonable to pressurise seriously disabled persons into work so ruthlessly when there are 2.5 million unemployed and when, on average, eight persons chase every vacancy, unless they are provided with the active and extensive support they obviously need to get and hold down work, which is certainly not the case currently?”
Read More: Atos comes under attack in emotional Commons debate by Amelia Gentleman.
In any circumstances it is not only unreasonable but unethical to hound sick and disabled people into work they are unable to do because of their illness or disability. Anyone who is sick or disabled – frankly sick or disabled amount to the same thing don’t they, namely an incapacity to work – has a difficult enough time just living from day-to-day. Getting up in the morning, dressing, preparing a meal, shopping all take much longer if you are sick or disabled or are not possible at all! All the chores that the abled bodied do in addition to work are not always possible for disabled or sick people. Work therefore adds an additional burden to already difficult lives. Frankly these days of long hours, too high expectations at work even healthy people struggle with
day-to-day essential chores. It is unreasonable in the extreme to expect sick and disabled people to work, yet many seriously ill and profoundly disabled people have been declared fit for work including:
Atos declare seriously ill gran fit to work and axe her benefits just two months before her retirement
CHRISTINE Traynor, 61, quit her job as a cleaner last year due to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – which leaves her struggling to breathe – but Atos told her to get another one following a fit-for-work assessment.
She Said: “It’s been a nightmare few weeks. I felt Atos were trying to make out I was telling lies.
“Who would give a job for six weeks to a person that can hardly breathe? Atos treat people with contempt. I’ve followed the coverage in the Record and it has made me really angry.”
Read More: Atos declare seriously ill gran fit to work and axe her benefits just two months before her retirement by Paul O’Hare
Seriously sick people have been cut off with out a penny told they are fit for work when clearly they are not including:
Benefit cuts blind man committed suicide after Atos ruled him fit to work. Threatened with eviction he hanged himself in the hall. His fitness to work assessment was carried out by someone with no experiences with blindness or mental health
A depressed blind man killed himself after he was left penniless because his benefits were slashed.
Desperate Tim Salter struggled to even feed himself when controversial private firm Atos ruled he was fit for work, despite his failing eyesight.
Read more: Benefit cuts blind man committed suicide after Atos ruled him fit to work by Luke Traynor
In the last few months of his life, Craig Monk attempted several overdoses and was described as ‘vulnerable’ by his family.
An accident a few years before had resulted in the partial amputation of his leg and he had suffered unnecessary, and anxiety-inducing, obstructions in receiving state assistance – even though his disability was clear for all see.
Over time he slipped further into poverty, the ends could no longer meet.
Finally, the fear of there not being a light at the end of his personal tunnel overwhelmed him and Mr. Monk, a 43-year-old from Burnley, was found hanging in his home in October last year.
Read More: British people are committing suicide to escape poverty. Is this what the State wants? By Sonia Poulton
While the above article was written nearly two years ago, nothing has improved as sadly things have only got worse with more and more people unfairly declared fit for work and more suicides.
Many people will be glad to see the back of ATOS, but more importantly we need to see an end of the misery and suffering inflicted on all benefit claimants including the unemployed who are unjustly sanctioned, left bereft without income and without hope by this corrupt and unethical government.
ATOS , the DWP, Cameron, Duncan Smith, Freud and Osborne should be indicted for crimes against humanity.
Atos Kills – UK protests against government killing of the vulnerable and disabled
National ATOS Demo – A personal Account