Protests at ATOS Centres for Disability Benefits Tests

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Protesters are due to descend on ATOS “asssement centres” where people on disability benefits are tested to decide if their benefits are to be cut off. The UK-wide day of action against benefits cuts on 14th April will see protests in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and at several locations in England.

ATOS are a profit-motivated company and they are being paid half a billion pounds by the government to victimise sick and disabled people,” say Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, who are organising the protest at ATOS's Edinburgh base at York Place.

From 4 April, the coalition government started a three year project to reassess all 1.5 million incapacity benefit claimants. The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) – carried out by ATOS - is designed to find many more people “fit for work”. About one and a quarter million people, now on incapacity benefit, will lose £25 a week. Because of sanctions and compulsion, many will not be able to cope on Jobseekers Allowance and will lose all their benefits. The ConDem legislation builds on measures introduced by the last Labour government, who replaced Incapacity Benefit with Employment Support Allowance, and introduced a harsh new ‘medical’ test.

Many claimants are failing assessments because the ATOS computer test is so stringent and mismanaged that seriously ill people are regularly being declared fit for work. The Citizens Advice Bureau’s chief executive has written that “seriously ill and disabled people are being severely let down by the crude approach” while in February, The Herald newspaper reported the deaths of two sick claimants waiting for their appeals against the loss of benefits due to their being ‘fit for work.’

ATOS routinely ignores the evidence and opinions of sick people's doctors, consultants and psychiatrists. Meanwhile their own “medical professionals” - including nurses and physiotherapists with limited knowledge of many conditions - sit ticking boxes on a computer as they follow a rigid, inflexible series of questions, and are ‘incentivised’ to find people fit for work. 40% of appeals against their decisions are won, rising to 70% of appeals where the claimant has had legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, while Edinburgh Council’s Rights Office has found success for 8 or 9 out of every 10 Appeal Tribunals they’ve attended.

Citizens Advice Scotland in a 2010 report wrote “Our evidence has highlighted the cases of many clients with serious health conditions who have been found fit for work, including those with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, bipolar disorder, heart failure, strokes, severe depression and agoraphobia.”

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP) say: “These assessments have nothing to do with the sympathetic care and support of the sick and needy that should be the mark of a civilised society , and everything to do with making the vulnerable pay for a crisis that was none of their making. This is being done in the name of ATOS but we should be saying loud and clear "NOT IN MY NAME".”

And ECAP urge those called in for tests: “Don't go alone – take a friend or adviser with you. This is your right. And if they do fail you – get advice and appeal.”

 

NOTES

The protest at ATOS, 44 York Place, Edinburgh will be from 11.30am – 1pm on Thursday 14 April

More information at www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk

How to deal with Benefits Medical Exams
 

Comments

Re: Protests at ATOS Centres for Disability Benefits Tests

By Anonymous

Good luck guys!  Stick it to 'em.  And post-match analysis please!

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