In Birmingham, there will be a demonstration from 12noon at the ATOS assessment centre, by Five Ways, Birmingham.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/645456685518373/
The nearest train station is Five Ways train station but this does not have level access. From Five Ways train station, exit the station and turn left, and the ATOS assessment centre is in the DWP building on the left a few hundred metres up the road.
For level access, use New Street, Moor Street or Snow Hill Train Station, and go from Victoria Square, through Paradise Forum and down Broad Street until you reach Five Ways Roundabout, where you want to turn left, but cross the road, either under Five Ways roundabout or using pedestrian crossings.
Birmingham City Centre is step free.
The nearest accessible toilets to the demonstration will be in the cinema, restaurants or pubs along Broad Street, within 500 metres of the demonstration site. I think Tesco’s at Five Ways may have accessible toilets which will be closest if someone can confirm that they are there.
The WCA is a test that is apparently not designed to assess the need of support of individual disabled people. ATOS administer this test, which is a series of questions with yes/no answers. No medical evidence from doctors, GPs, consultants or anyone else can be submitted. For anyone with a variable condition it may be impossible to answer a question such as “Can you walk 50m unaided?”, because some days you can, some you can’t. Does that mean answering yes or no? Answer yes and you’ll get no points and won’t get the support you need. Answer no and it’s a lie. 50% of the decisions made by ATOS are appealed and 40% of appeals succeed. With an overall failure rate of 20% this is a test that is screaming out for reform.
Problem is that the WCA is not designed to correctly assess the level of support required. It’s designed to remove as many people as possible from disability benefits. It is accompanied by an overall process that leads to claimants being effectively harrassed by ATOS, as the appeal process takes so long that by the time they win their appeal, it’s almost time for their annual assessment again, so within a few weeks or months of having their claim reinstated, they find themselves kicked off benefits once more, only win on appeal once more.
The tragic stories are all those who have lost their lives in this process, whether that’s Paul Turner, the Birmingham dad who died of a heart attack caused by his heart condition just three weeks after being told he was fit for work, or Chris Maguire, who committed suicide after being told by ATOS he would have another assessment despite winning his appeal and ATOS being told not to contact him. Then there’s the ludicrous ones, like the person with a rare bone cancer told they didn’t qualify because they caused their own illness.
This is a dangerous failure of a test and it needs to be halted whilst a test is devised that genuinely assesses the level of support needed by disabled people. Join us at the demonstration on Feb 19th, or join a demonstration near you.