Not heard of ATOS? They are the private company the government awarded a £300million contract to re-test people claiming Incapacity Benefit (IB).
ATOS have an appalling record of handling the re-assessments. 70% of claimaints with representation have their benefits restored on appeal – but this can take up to a year. Which means someone who is unable to work needs to find a way to live without any money. For a year.
This does, however, give the right wing press plenty of opportunities to demonise those who claim disability benefit as scroungers, by only quoting the figures of people removed on assessment, ignoring the huge number who have their benefits restored.
In case you are in any doubt of the harshness of ATOS reassessments, or the effect that it can have, it was reported earlier this week that 3 people have died whilst waiting for their appeals.
Benefit Claimants Fight Back – one of the groups behind the week of demonstrations says this about ATOS:
It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.
This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer.
Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.
If you are feeling disgusted, sick or angry at the treatment that disabled people are getting at the hands of this government, then remember that we are all in it together, and whether you are disabled or not, take action!
In Birmingham there are two events taking place. On Thursday 12th May, Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) and Right to Work have a public meeting, at 7pm at the Unison Offices, 19th Floor McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway, Birmingham, B4 7NN. Linda Burnip (DPAC), Polly Polly Sweeney (the solicitor from Irwin Mitchell who has just won a case preventing Birmingham City Council changing eligibility criteria for care funding)
Then on Friday May 13th at noon outside Waterstones bookshop opposite bull statue in Bullring centre join them for leafleting and street theatre ‘ The Computer Says NO’ an adaptation of a Brighton Benefit Campaign play.
There are other events happening all around the UK, and a list can be found on the Benefit Claimants Fightback page. On twitter, follow @ClaimantProtest
If you are unable to make one of these protests, then you can join the virtual protest – Facebook Event for further information. On twitter, follow @VirtualResistan
The virtual protest took place on the first national days of action, designed around the needs of disabled people who are not able to join protests on the streets, either for reasons of their disability or because they cannot afford to travel to a protest, but of course it is open to anyone with internet access to join.
After ATOS is a site given over to collecting the true facts, statistics and experience of disabled people going through and being assessed by Atos Healthcare through their ESA Medical Assessments. You should go and sign their petition now. They are also collecting information from disabled people about how their re-assessments have been handled, and although there are currently not too many replies, you should have a look at the results if you are in any doubt about ATOS’ suitability for such a contract.
Edited to add – in a comment on this blog post, After ATOS have said:
the earlier results come from last month before we developed out web site and was able to promote our survey effectively with current survey completions coming in thick and fast, (we are averaging over 2,000 hits a day on our web site after just over a week), and the results we are receiving bear out the earlier results we have published on our web site
I will leave the final words to Eleanor from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC):
While many of you here today may think that what happens to disabled people is of little interest to you it’s important for everyone to realise that most disabled people have acquired an impairment due to illness, accident, or old age., so helping us to fight for our rights and not be reliant on charity could help you or someone you care about in the future.
What I believe we all share in common however is that we are all being attacked by this millionaire government and that we have to fight for our futures together.
The national week of action is supported by:
o Armchair Army
o Anti-Benefit Cuts Glasgow
o Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign
o Brighton Benefits Campaign
o Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance (BADACA)
o Cardiff’s Unemployed Daytime Disco
o Carer Watch
o Claimants Fightback
o Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist
o Defend Glasgow Services Campaign
o Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
o Disabled People Against Cuts
o Dundee Unemployed Workers
o East Lancs Right to Work
o Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP)
o Free London Listings
o Goldsmiths in Occupation
o Haringey Solidarity Group
o Ipswich Unemployed Action
o Islington Deaf and Disabled People Against Cuts
o Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS)
o Islington Poverty Action
o John McDonnell, MP
o Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group
o Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts
o London Autistic Rights Movement
o Liverpool Solidarity Federation
o London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP)
o London Foodbank
o Mad Pride
o Medway Against The Cuts
o Mental Health Resistance Network
o Milton Keynes Coalition of Resistance
o Norfolk Community Action Group
o Nottingham Claimants’ Union
o Nuneaton Against Benefit Cuts
o Nurses Against Atos
o Oxford Save Our Services
o Plymouth Claimants Union
o Right To Work Campaign
o Save Our Services in Reading
o Single Mothers’ Self-Defence
o Social Work Action Network (SWAN)
o Torbay & District Anti-Cuts Alliance
o Tyne and Wear Coalition of Resistance
o Tyneside Claimants Union
o UNITE Scottish Housing Associations Branch
o Welfare Action Hackney
o Welfare Rights 4 u (UK)
o West Yorkshire Solidarity Federation
o Where’s the Benefit?
o WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)
o Work Programme & Flexible New Deal Scandal
o World Homeless Day