British privatised oppression of disabled people

This video from Britain says about itself:

Atos not a medical examination” – Dennis Skinner on the flaws of disability benefits assessment

Labour MP for Bolsover Dennis Skinner tells Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi how those who are disabled can be unfairly dismissed by the assessment company ATOS. After recent revelations that the company has to fulfil quotas, the veteran politician says ATOS are not fit for purpose. First aired: 28/12/2013

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Disability Rights: Get rid of deceitful benefits firms

Disabled people fear privateers carrying out assessments for their benefits claims are being ‘actively untruthful’

PEOPLE with disabilities do not trust outsourcing companies that deal with their benefit claims as they fear assessors are “actively deceitful”, MPs warn the government in a report published today.

The Commons work and pensions committee called on ministers to take assessments back in-house as there was evidence that the companies carrying out work capability assessments — Atos, Capita and Maximus — had produced reports “riddled with errors and omissions”.

Their contracts come up for renewal in 2019 and 2020.

The “low bar” for standards set by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been “universally missed”, they added.

The DWP has spent “hundreds of millions on pounds” of taxpayers’ money on checking and defending decisions since 2013, the report by the cross-party committee says.

Some 290,000 rejected claims for personal independence payments (PIP) or employment and support allowance (ESA) have been granted on appeal since 2013 — 6 per cent of all those assessed.

Figures obtained by the Press Association revealed that the DWP has spent £108.1 million on direct staffing costs for ESA and PIP appeals since October 2015.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) told the Star that didn’t cover the £1.6 billion paid over three years to US privateer Maximus and £416m to Atos and Capita.

The committee received an “unprecedented” number of responses from PIP and ESA claimants. Almost 4,000 people detailed “shocking” and “credible” accounts of the system’s failures.

A recurrent complaint was that claimants did not believe the companies’ non-specialist assessors could be trusted to record evidence of their conditions accurately.

Assessors were viewed as “at best lacking in competence and at worst actively deceitful.”

Many claimants reported experiencing “a great deal of anxiety and other deleterious health impacts.”

One claimant was said in her assessment report to walk her dog, despite not owning one and being barely able to walk at all.

Another, who remained in bed throughout her interview at home, was reported to have risen from a chair “without any difficulty” even though the only chair in the room was the one the assessor was sitting in.

A DWP spokesman claimed that the majority of ESA and PIP claimants were “happy with their overall [assessment] experience.”

But committee chairman Frank Field said shortcomings in the system were causing “untenable human costs to claimants and financial costs to the public purse.”

He said: “No-one should have any doubt the process needs urgent change.”

DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip also called for the assessments to be done by DWP.

She told the Morning Star: “It seems to have taken the work and pensions committee a long time to become aware of just how atrocious these assessments carried out by odious corporations being paid vast amounts of taxpayers’ money really are.

“Hopefully now it is aware of the gross inadequacies of the processes something will be done to remove the contracts from these firms.”

Deafblind charity Sense deputy chief executive Richard Kramer urged the DWP to implement the report’s recommendations and to allow people with hearing impairments to apply for PIP and ESA.

He added: “We need a system that engages and supports disabled people rather than a system that undermines them.”

The MPs also recommended that all face-to-face assessments should be recorded and a copy sent to the claimant along with the assessor’s report, not just the notification of the DWP decision.

Mr Field said it “beggars belief” that assessments were not already routinely recorded.

Atos gets British taxpayers’ money to attack disabled people

This video from Britain says about itself:

Atos not a medical examination” – Dennis Skinner on the flaws of disability benefits assessment

Labour MP for Bolsover Dennis Skinner tells Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi how those who are disabled can be unfairly dismissed by the assessment company ATOS. After recent revelations that the company has to fulfil quotas, the veteran politician says ATOS are not fit for purpose. First aired: 28/12/2013.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Atos & Capita to be paid £700m to throw disabled off benefits

Kick Atos, Capita and the Tories out!

THE TORY government have turned their fire against one of the most vulnerable sections of society: disabled people.

The government has launched a three-pronged attack: Firstly they have cut disabled people’s money by £29 a week; Secondly they have seized their mobility cars, leaving them isolated in their homes; and thirdly they are demanding all disabled people attend extremely stressful assessment interviews where they have to ‘prove’ that they are disabled or face being thrown off benefits and left to starve.

It was on April 1 that the Tories brought in the savage cut for disabled people. Anyone now filing a new claim for employment and support allowance (ESA) will only get £73.10 a week, instead of £102.15, a cut of £29.05 a week. Disability Rights UK said: ‘A £30-a-week cut in income is intolerable, especially when disabled people often live in deep poverty.’

Disabled people are in fact over twice as likely to be driven to food banks than able-bodied people, a newly released report has found. The £29-a-week cut is just one aspect of the Tory onslaught against the disabled: More than 51,000 disabled people have already had their mobility allowance and specially adapted cars seized since 2013. The Motability Scheme gives disabled people the chance to lease a specially adapted vehicle.

Thousands of people are now being denied mobility as they transfer over from disability living allowance (DLA) to the controversial new disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The charity Muscular Dystrophy UK said 900 cars are now being taken away every week as more and more people are being rejected from PIP.

Private companies Atos and Capita are the culprits, they are responsible for rejecting disabled people from receiving PIP. Atos and Capita are being paid hundreds of millions of pounds by the government to force disabled people to attend assessment interviews. Not only is it very difficult for disabled people to get to the assessment centres, especially if they have not got specialised transport, they are then subjected to a gruelling assessment.

It is up to the disabled person to ‘prove’ that they are still disabled. Even those who are suffering from incurable conditions are now being forced to attend assessment interviews. Three thousand, five hundred people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease were forced to attend assessments between April and October last year.

In one case, 41-year-old mother Sam Adams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), was told she did not need her mobility car after the assessor tickled her hand with a feather (a test for body surface sensation) after which she concluded that Sam Adams could walk up to the benchmark.

When PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance, the benchmark distance for someone being ‘virtually unable to walk’ changed from 50 metres to 20 metres. Adams said: ‘How she came to that conclusion when she’s not seen me walk, she’s not seen me walk up and down stairs – all she did was tickle my hand with a feather. What conclusions she was coming to from tickling my hand with a feather, I’ll never know.’

Sam Adams is one of hundreds of thousands of people that Atos and Capita have thrown off benefits, wrongly claiming that they are not disabled. For this service to the Tories they are paid and paid royally. Atos and Capita have already received £578m for assessments since 2013, with a further £700m promised over the next five years, a bonus of £200m more than was first agreed.

Rather than spend the £1.28bn on improving the quality of life of disabled people, the government would rather hand this money over to private companies to kick hundreds of thousands of disabled people off their benefits and onto the streets!

Both the private assessment companies and the Tories are hated in equal amounts. Disabled people are fighting back, organising demonstrations outside assessment centres up and down the country, even chaining their wheelchairs together to block the roads outside Whitehall.

They cannot be left to fight alone! The entire working class must be mobilised to back up their struggle with a general strike to bring down the Tory government, and bring in a workers government to abolish the assessments and give disabled people all the finances and assistance they need.

Britain’s disabled people, out of Atos frying pan into Maximus fire?

This video from Britain says about itself:

Introducing Maximus – Atos replacement [subtitles available]

18 January 2015

DWP have awarded the 3.5 year contract to US multinational group Maximus Inc. Alas, Maximus’ past includes having to settle criminal investigations for falsifying medicaid claims in the USA. In fact the list goes on when it comes to the scandal-hit firm.

By Anita Bellows in Britain:

A perfect storm for disabled people

Saturday 16th January 2016

ANITA BELLOWS spotlights the failures of Atos’s successor – Maximus – in carrying out disability assessments

THE National Audit Office recently produced a report on the delivery of Department for Work and Pensions’ disability assessments.

This report does not deal with decision accuracy, claimant experience or the number of claimants found fit for work who did (or didn’t) move into employment.

It mainly assesses the value for money of DWP contracts, against a series of predetermined targets, and the way the contracts have been managed.

Of particular interest is the contract awarded to Maximus for disability assessments, which has been plagued with the same challenges previously encountered with Atos, and with some new problems attributable to both the DWP and Maximus.

Stung by its previous experience with Atos, the DWP has tried to tighten the terms of the contract in order to manage the provider’s performance and make it more accountable.

It does so by using service credits, which can eliminate the provider’s profit, if targets are not met.

This happened recently when Maximus failed to meet its targets. As its anticipated profit never materialised, Maximus’s shares dropped by 26 per cent.

The issue with the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) contract is that it was flawed from day one. The National Audit Office details a number of unmet targets such as those related to assessment reports, which deal with their legibility, absence of medical jargon and consistency.

Only 13 per cent of the reports met contractual standards in the 12 months up to August 2015, but it has to be said that these targets, which were initially set by the Labour government, and which are used as a proxy to assess quality of reports, don’t necessarily reflect the quality or the accuracy of the decision eventually made on functional capability.

The same can be said of the claimant experience, which encompasses waiting time and satisfaction.

The main issue seems to have been the turnaround performance levels, which include volume and turnaround time (this is the clearance time of a claim, including processing up to the time a report is received by the DWP).

When Maximus took over from Atos for the delivery of work capability assessments in March 2015, it inheritated a toxic reputation and a huge backlog of over 700,000 ESA claimants.

Maximus also contractually agreed to meet the non-negotiable target of one million ESA assessments in 2015-16, although it seems it subsequently requested a revision of this target.

According to the National Audit Office, the DWP based its target not on achievable and realistic assumptions but on the number of assessments required in order to achieve the expected savings.

In other words, this volume of assessments was needed to reduce the number of people claiming disability benefits to the level expected to achieve the predetermined savings.

These savings were vitally important for DWP. They were, after all, at the crux of its programme of welfare reform, and it did not have many successes to demonstrate with universal credit or the work programme for disabled people.

Only through quickly processing new claimants and endlessly reassessing other claimants, could the DWP hope to increase the number of claimants found fit for work and leaving the ESA benefit.

This very ambitious target created disquiet at the tendering stage. Several bidders raised concerns and asked the DWP to consider other options.

The department refused, and one experienced bidder withdrew from the process because it could not meet the required number of assessments, and two others withdrew from the later negotiated procedure.

This left Maximus in a good position to win the bid. Unfortunately, Maximus had also based its tender on unrealistic assumptions, namely that it would have the capacity to process one million assessessments in 2015-16.

This capacity was partly a legacy of the Atos contract, with 1,400 clinical and administrative staff, 30 assessment centres managed by Atos, and access to the IT infrastructure developed by Atos.

Even so, Maximus is not on track to complete the expected number of assessments, mainly because of staffing issues. Maximus’s assumption was that 95 per cent of staff would still be in post after one month, but in practice only around half of those it recruited completed their training, so Maximus had no choice other than to recruit more staff in a very competitive market, offering very few long-term vacancies, and the only way to do this was to offer higher salaries.

The estimated cost of hiring and training healthcare professionals for ESA assessments increased from an average £26,000 (spring 2014) in the earlier contract to, for example, £44,000 for a London-based nurse in 2015-16.

This means that the cost of providing an ESA assessment has increased from £115 per assessment with Atos to £190 per assessment with the new ESA contract.

These costs do not include other departmental costs. For example, the DWP conducted 177,000 mandatory reconsiderations (required for an internal review of an ESA decision before a claimant can lodge an appeal) between October 2013 and October 2014 (the latest figures available).

The cost of an individual ESA mandatory reconsideration is £77.88, which means that during this specific year DWP spent almost £14 million reviewing the quality of initial ESA decisions challenged by claimants, which must be added to the overall cost of ESA assessments.

With a target of one million assessments in 2015-2016, it is certain that the number of mandatory reconsiderations will also have increased, as would the cost for DWP.

This pressure on Maximus to perform such a high volume of assessments has helped to reduce the number of oustanding claims to 410,000 in August 2015, but it has also led to a decline in the quality of the assessment reports, and more importantly for benefit claimants, to an unacceptable wait for an ESA outcome.

It still takes 23 weeks for Maximus to return an ESA report to a DWP decision-maker.

During all this time claimants will only receive the ESA lower pre-assessment rate of £73.10 for a claimant over 25.

And the decision-maker still has to make a decision based on the report received from Maximus.

It has always been clear that changing providers was never going to improve what is a flawed, unfit for purpose test to assess functionality for work, but there were expectations in some quarters that at least Maximus would be more competent than Atos.

This does not seem to be the case. Claimants’ experiences are as bad, and sometimes worse than under Atos, and ultimately, the aim of these already toxified ESA assessments has not changed.

The political aim of this government to reduce the number of disability benefit claimants, coupled with the greed of a provider with a reputation as a “disability denier” in the US, Canada and Australia, which could not pass up such a lucrative contract, has again created a perfect storm for disabled people.

Atos messing up British health service

Marchers in Britain demanding the sacking of ATOS

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 2 January 2016

GPES & ATOS slammed

THE General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) IT system, designed to extract data from the four major clinical IT systems used by GPs, is late, over-budget and still does not deliver all that was intended, say MPs.

The just-published House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report says. ‘The original business case expected the service to start in 2009-10, but it took until April 2014 for HSCIC (Health and Social Care Information Centre) to provide the first GPES data extract to an NHS organisation.

‘So far only two of the eight organisations identified as users of the service have received data from GPES. ‘The expected cost of the project increased from £14 million to £40 million during the planning and procurement stage.

‘Further cost increases have been smaller, but there have been at least £5.5 million of write offs, additional settlements and delay costs. ‘The Department (of Health) admits that it is not getting value for money from GPES; that the service is only delivering about half of what was specified and paid for; and that the fixed-price contract approach which was used had been inappropriate.

‘HSCIC is currently considering options to improve or replace GPES.’ The report also concludes: ‘The original project team did not have the right skills or experience to build GPES and the governance structure was not fit for purpose.’

It also slams private contractor Atos, saying: ‘In their approach to this project, Atos did not show an appropriate duty of care to the taxpayer. We are not satisfied Atos provided proper professional support to an inexpert client and are very concerned that it appears to have acted solely with its own short term best interests in mind …

Atos claims it fixed the issues relating to its software at its own expense and that the additional £1.9 million it received while doing so was for additional work related to 15 new features. We found that Atos’s chief executive, Mr Adrian Gregory, the company’s witness in our enquiry, appeared rather indifferent to the plight of the client; we expect more from those contracting with government and receiving funds from the taxpayer.’

The PAC recommendations: ‘The Cabinet Office should undertake a full review of Atos’s relationships as a supplier to the Crown. We expect the Cabinet Office to note carefully this example of sharp practice when determining what obligations a duty of care on contractors should entail and what sanctions would apply when performance falls short.’

British disabled people, from Atos frying pan into Maximus fire?

This video from Britain says about itself:

Filming of an ESA Assessment Carried Out by French Firm ATOS

8 February 2013

Previously banned ATOS undercover filming ESA Assessment Just Say No 4th October 2012; which shows the dubious methods used by Atos and the UK government.

By Linda Burnip in Britain:

From one toxic corporation to another?

Tuesday 25th November 2014

The contract for work capability assessments has been taken over from the notorious Atos by a firm called Maximus. Linda Burnip takes a look its terrible track record in the US

Maximus is the US corporation newly contracted to provide work capability assessments at a cost to taxpayers of £500 million over three-and-a-half years.

It has a very murky past.

Maximus claims that its British operations are different from those in its US homeland and that it has abandoned its previous sharp practice.

But should disabled people hope that Maximus has changed?

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and other disability campaign groups think the answer to that is very definitely No and there’s lots of evidence to support our views.

Until now Maximus has specialised in other streams of outsourced government contracts around the world, most of which have been linked to work programmes.

In addition to Maximus’s takeover of the discredited work capability assessments from Atos, its subsidiary Health Management Ltd has been contracted to harass sick and disabled employees back to work as quickly as possible through the newly introduced Health and Work Service for England and Wales.

After four weeks of being off work sick, employees will now have their fitness to return to work assessed via just a short telephone call. This will affect up to one million employees who become ill every year.

In the US it seems that Maximus is operating a similar scheme which not only denies sickness benefits to people who are entitled to them but also worker compensation and even treatment.

US court files show Maximus has faced and been found guilty of charges from 2000 to 2013, including allegations of fraud, improper spending on expenses and disability, race and gender discrimination, and it has been forced to pay out millions in fines as a result.

In spite of its claim to have changed, as recently as last year US government auditors published a report which found that all but $2 million of $41.4m asked for by the state of Wisconsin — on advice from Maximus — had been “improperly claimed” under Medicaid, the US healthcare insurance programme for those on low incomes.

Maximus was paid a fee based on how much extra revenue the state made.

And earlier this year the state of Illinois terminated a £50m contract with Maximus to help clear a Medicaid backlog for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services after a federal review found that almost 30 per cent of the recommendations were incorrect.

Maximus has also drawn heavy criticism for its performance in delivering a privatised child support enforcement service in Tennessee. The Department for Homeland Security logged 894 statewide complaints against Maximus from July 2009 to September 2012.

It was also criticised in 2010 for allowing many medical workers in a programme for substance-abusing health professionals to continue working because a subcontractor working for Maximus was using the wrong standard to measure them against.

And in the same year, Maximus and one of its subcontractors agreed to pay compensation of $2.5m over the botched update of a criminal justice service IT system in the state of Connecticut.

Not surprisingly Maximus and its management support right-wing politicians and it spent almost $2m on political contributions at the federal level from 1998 to 2013, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics.

While it would be wrong to conclude that Maximus is directly “buying” contracts for itself, it does make you wonder why it gives so much.

Now, ever greedy for more money, it has taken on the discredited work capability assessment contract in Britain.

Maximus already knows the flaws in the process, yet it is content to comply in implementing a system which is not only brutal but in complete meltdown.

It is inheriting a backlog of 600,000 disabled people waiting for an assessment, often for more than 12 months.

Atos’s record has been truly abysmal. It claims it pulled out of the work capability assessment contract after staff were threatened by “vulnerable” disabled people.

But what really happened to get rid of the toxic Atos?

Regular and repeated protests were held outside Atos offices all around Britain, including its posh London headquarters.

It was hounded off social media, while its corporate identity was repeatedly hijacked despite a string of legal threats.

Other parts of its business were targeted by protesters and the Co-operative Bank was successfully lobbied to end its occupational health contract with Atos.

Everywhere Atos appeared it was hounded by disabled people and claimants determined to expose and disrupt the company — and most of all make its share prices fall.

Atos’s attempt to resurrect its image by sponsoring the Paralympics turned into a PR disaster as large and creative protests exposed this company’s true attitude towards disabled people.

Recruitment events were picketed and working for Atos became a badge of shame among healthcare professionals as the company grew increasingly despised both at home and internationally.

As DPAC has said all along, the entire work capability assessment process must be scrapped.

Nothing has changed with Atos’s flight other than the name of the corporation milking our money for its shareholders.

It is simply more of the same thing — medicals conducted using the same discredited computer software, the same tick-box exercises and many of the same staff who have moved across from Atos with no real change.

The process will continue to contribute to deaths, worsening mental health conditions, worsening physical conditions and increasing poverty and deprivation as hundreds of thousands of disabled people are wrongly assessed, reassessed and deprived of income they are entitled to.

Maximus says it has changed and all will be well when it takes over the contract. There again, we all know that tooth fairies really do exist, don’t we?

Linda Burnip is co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts.

UP TO one hundred trade unionists, disabled campaigners and their supporters demonstrated yesterday outside Maximus, the company who have taken over the work-capability assessment, previously carried out by ATOS: here.

Anti-disabled people corporation Atos, unfit Commonwealth Games sponsor

This video from Britain says about itself:

1 March 2014

Atos and the DWP are killing disabled people

10,600 disabled people died within 6 weeks of their benefits being stopped in 2011, after which the data was declared vexatious and withdrawn from the public domain.

Estimates suggest 40,000 have died unnecessarily including many suicides.

By Rory MacKinnon in Scotland:

Disability activists spread Atos kills message at Commonwealth Games

Thursday 31st July 2014

HUNDREDS of Commonwealth Games tourists were surprised in Glasgow’s George Square yesterday as disability activists cried shame on sponsor Atos.

A clutch of demonstrators backing campaign group Glasgow Against Atos held banners and placards aloft — reading “ATOS KILLS” — in front of sports fans who were viewing the Glasgow 2014 sculpture and queueing for Games merchandise.

IT giant Atos has sought to boost its public profile by sponsoring database software for international sporting events, but campaigners have fought to expose its role in deadly cuts to disability benefits under a lucrative contract running “work capability assessments” for the Department of Work and Pensions.

Demonstrator Ronnie Swinton told the Morning Star he had come all the way from Dundee to voice his anger at Atos.

Mr Swinton said he had spent seven weeks “without any money,” depending on friends as he fought to appeal a decision that he was fit for work despite chronic depression.

Mr Swinton said he had eventually won his appeal but the stress had taken a further toll on his health.

“I was afraid of losing my flat.

“It would’ve given me a mental illness if I didn’t have one in the first place,” he said.

And a government proposal to simply switch contractors won’t solve the problems either, he added: “The whole system’s got to be stopped before any more people die.”

Several suicides have been linked to benefits being denied following Atos’ assessments, including “Miss DE” in 2011, whose identity remains protected, and blind agoraphobe Tim Salter, who took his own life in September last year.

The department says it does not record mortality rates for those deemed “fit for work.”

But figures released in 2012 suggested that 2,200 people had died before Atos had even completed their assessment — and 1,300 had died within six weeks of being shunted into “work related activity.”

In 2012 Paralympic athletes hid their branded lanyards at London’s Olympic opening ceremony, while Sport Disability Scotland told MSPs in April of athletes who could no longer afford to continue their sporting careers after losing out to an assessment.

Anti-disabled people discrimination in Britain

This video about Britain is called “Atos not fit for purpose” – Dennis Skinner on benefits testing. It says about itself:

28 December 2013

Afshin Rattansi goes underground on how Atos treats the disabled, speaking exclusively to veteran Labour MP, Dennis Skinner. It seems the company is trying to fill a quota, as it pushes the most vulnerable in society back into work. And has the government covered up the truth about the miners’ strike at Orgreave? Ian Lavery MP says it’s time we heard the truth about the violent crackdown.

By Luke James in Britain:

Disabled would-be councillor advised ‘don’t bring walking stick’

Wednesday 2nd July 2014

LABOUR mentors’ only advice to a disabled woman hoping to become a councillor was not to take her walking stick to selection meetings, Unite conference heard yesterday.

The Unite activist, who wished to remain anonymous, served as a Labour councillor in Lancashire and hoped to represent her new community when she moved to the West Midlands five years ago.

But she found herself frozen out of public life after being left disabled by a car crash.

Patricia Seaman read out her story to Unite delegates yesterday to unmask the “deplorable” attitude of some local Labour parties to disabled candidates.

“I have been trying for five years to get any (council) nomination without success,” the woman’s statement said.

“When I had a mentor during coaching all I was told was do not take your walking stick to the interview.

“Friends have told me that some people feel a candidate with a disability would not get elected as they cannot campaign effectively.”

Her disability does not fit with the “stereotypical image of the perfect candidate,” it added.

West Midlands delegate Paul Birkett also recounted the story of disabled Unite member David Jones who had his ambitions of reaching Parliament dashed.

Conference heard how Mr Jones lost out in his bid to stand against Iain Duncan Smith — who has cruelly slashed benefits and job schemes for disabled people — in the Chingford and Woodford seat.

Mr Birkett said: “Statistically the position of disabled candidates is quite demoralising.”

Both delegates pointed out that just 5 per cent of MPs are disabled compared to 30 per cent of people in Britain.

Unite conference called on Labour to review its selection procedure to ensure disabled people receive support — including shortlists exclusively for disabled people.

Stop anti-disabled people corporation Atos

This video from the British parliament says about itself:

19 December 2012

Ian Lavery asks David Cameron to respond to suicide by people whose benefits have been cut because of welfare reforms.

By Peter Corcoran in Britain:

Campaigners rally to rid Britain of Atos

Wednesday 2nd April 2014

Demonstrators target jobcentres and Atos offices

Disability and anti-cuts campaigners took to the streets yesterday in protest against hated welfare privateer Atos.

Demonstrators targeted jobcentres and Atos offices, saying that despite Atos quitting the £500 million work capability assessment (WCA) contract there was still a job to do.

“We need to get rid of Atos completely,” said Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) co-founder Adam Lotun.

The government handed Atos a “substantial financial settlement” after dropping the WCA contract, but the French-owned privateer is still responsible for personal independence payment assessments.

“We need to get them removed from governmental services,” Mr Lotun said, “not just in the WCA but out of PIP and out of jobcentres.”

Activists rallied in 117 towns from Brighton to Workington.

In Sheffield dozens of people marched on the Rockingham House Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) office.

Once there the group of activists – including Unite, Napo and NUM members – entered the building and chained themselves to a staircase.

Unite Community South Yorkshire organiser Mairi-Ann Lowry said: “Demos are good but not enough.

“Until they abolish work capacity assessment we will keep protesting and we will keep occupying.”

In Ealing, west London, 30 people from picketed the local jobcentre in protest at cuts to local services.

Acting Unite Community branch secretary Raj Gill said: “We feel really confident after today’s protest.”

As well as the Unite Community branch, members of the trades council, Slough TUC, RMT members, locals and Labour councillor Zahida Abbas Noori joined the protest.

“People have been put through a quite disgusting way of assessment,” Mr Gill added. “It’s degrading and discriminatory against disabled people.”

DPAC and the Atos Kills campaign said the DWP and Pensions and Atos were culpable in the deaths of several vulnerable people.

Among them is Mark Wood, a mental-illness sufferer who starved to death after he was ruled fit for work and had his benefits cut.

Tens of thousands of jobless disabled people in the north-east are being refused benefits as the coalition government continues its vicious attacks on the country’s most vulnerable unemployed workers, new figures showed yesterday. Unite research showed that last year 28,702 unemployed disabled people in the region were refused Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) — which replaced incapacity benefit — after being subjected to assessments by discredited private assessor Atos: here.

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Disabled people-killing corporation Atos in retreat

This video from Britain is called Atos 1100 suicides.

By Will Stone in Britain:

Atos seeks early exit from ‘fit to work’ assessment contract

Saturday 22nd February 2014

Privateer blames ‘abuse’ from disabled people for its decision — despite being branded ‘unacceptable’ by the government

Atos healthcare has indicated it is planning an early exit from its multi-million pound contract to assess disabled people’s benefits, just days after a national protest against the firm.

The company — which assesses whether disabled people are “fit for work” — confirmed yesterday that it has been in discussions “for several months” about ending its £500m million contract due to run out in August next year.

It claims the decision to consider pulling out comes as a result of persistant death threats, assaults and abuse against its staff, both in person and online, alleging that it recorded around 163 incidents a month last year.

But Disabled People Against Cuts spokesman Adam Lotun argued that Atos “are jumping before they are pushed” and accused the company of trying to spin its way out of a PR disaster.

“They are over-egging the fact that disabled people are angry at having their benefits withdrawn and spinning it on their terms when all disabled people are doing is standing up for themselves,” he told the Star.

Mr Lotun believes both Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which developed the work capability assessments together, are distancing themselves from each other.

Relations with the DWP appear to be close to breakdown amid persistent criticism over the quality of Atos’s assessments.

Last summer it was announced that the company had been instructed to implement a “quality improvement plan” following an “unacceptable” deterioration in the quality of its written reports.

At the same time the DWP said it would be seeking to bring in additional providers in order to increase capacity and cut waiting times.

“The fact is that the DWP are planning to sack Atos from the contract this month,” Mr Lotun believes. “So they are jumping on their sword before they are pushed.

“They cannot cope with the pressures and the action taken against them.

“We know the DWP have lined up the usual suspects — Capita and G4S — to take over the contracts but the fact is that it does not need to be farmed out to private companies and consultants with no medical experience or relationship with patients.

“The whole process would be better-served carried out by the NHS.”

The DWP refused to comment on its discussions with Atos.

THE coalition government’s favourite private benefits testing company, Atos, is desperately attempting to jump ship after pocketing a fortune for driving people off sickness benefit: here.

British disabled people against Atos

This video from Britain is called ATOS National Demo. February 19th 2014.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Ex-miners and Unite activists join forces in anti-Atos protest

Thursday 20th February 2014

Privateer’s Manchester office targeted by angry demonstration over work capability assessments

Former miners joined forces with activists from union Unite to target offices of hated privateer Atos in northern England yesterday.

They joined demonstrations across Britain against the firm slashing disabled people’s benefits as part of the Con-Dems’ dubious work capability assessments programme.

Unite says 10,600 disabled people have died after having their benefits stopped. Some have committed suicide.

Around 70 people staged a noisy protest at Atos’ Manchester offices — bringing together union activists and victims of the government’s cruel attacks on disabled people.

There was also strong support for yesterday’s demonstrations in Yorkshire and the north-east England, where Unite Community has forged links with the National Union of Mineworkers and Durham Miners’ Association.

Unite Community regional organiser Joe Rollin oversaw protests in Hull, Sheffield, Leeds, Durham and Newcastle.

He said: “The mood was one of real anger. There have been a lot of deaths happening, people getting stressed out and suffering mental health problems after their benefits were stopped.”

Ex-miners joined the demonstrations in Sheffield and Durham.

Mr Rollin said: “Atos has had a massive impact on ex-miners. A lot have been on sickness benefit because of injuries at the pit and work-related illnesses.

“They are being declared fit for work but can’t, so they are ‘sanctioned’, their benefits stopped, or put on workfare.”

Unite Community has opened community offices at the NUM headquarters in Barnsley, providing help and advice on benefits, but also training members in community activism.

It is also helping with appeals against Atos decisions.

Atos loses one-third of its cases on appeal,” Mr Rollin said.

“How many companies with a one-third failure rate would continue to get government contracts?”

Disability rights campaigners protested outside the Atos assessment centre in Wolverhampton yesterday, calling for fairer treatment of disability benefit claimants: here.

Let’s not mince words – Atos is a killer company. It has the deaths of more than 10,000 disabled people on its hands. It is vicious, incompetent and is making vast profits from causing misery and suffering: here.

Left MP Dennis Skinner appealed to Labour yesterday to replace the government’s disgraced “work assessment scheme” for disabled people with n panel of trade unionists and medical experts: here.

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