Category Archives: ESA/Atos

Meet Richard A. Montoni – The Five Million Dollar Maximus Boss Here To Fleece The UK’s Benefits System

No wonder the cunt’s smiling.

Richard A. Montoni – the boss of US firm Maximus who will soon be carrying out the despised assessments for sickness and disability benefits – received a salary and compensation package worth over a staggering five million dollars in 2013.

Maximus specialise in outsourced government contracts.  They already run Iain Duncan Smith’s disastrous Work Programme in some parts of the UK, along with a new scheme to harass people on sick leave by declaring them fit to return to work on the back of a short phone call.  As well as operating in the US, Canada and Australia, Maximus also have a welfare-to-work contract with the Saudi Arabian government – where women are segregated in the workplace and forbidden from carrying out many jobs.  From March next year they will take over from Atos running the Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) designed to strip benefits from sick or disabled people.  These crude computer based tests have caused horrifying suffering and led to homelessness, ill health and tragically even suicides as people with serious health conditions are found fit for work and left without enough money to eat or keep the heating on.

Montoni is not the only one benefiting from a huge salary at the expense of tax payers around the world.  Maximus have been criticised in the US after it was revealed their top excecutives received compensation packages of $41,808,585 between 2008 and 2012.  According to Forbes, Montoni himself received a salary and share packages worth $5,136,321 in 2013.  With that kind of money on the table is it any wonder they have the morals of sewer rats?

Montoni is a hands on kind of boss, recently appearing in a DWP press release congratulating himself at swindling the UK government into handing him millions of pounds of our money.  The WCA contract is expected to be worth around half a billion, a chunk of which will end up in his pocket.  Whilst the Government this week attempts to stir up hatred towards asylum seekers fleeing war zones, here they are handing a fortune to some American fucking Dallas   reject who doesn’t even live in the UK.  Hate this smug bastard, because it is the rich who are stealing the world, not the poor.

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Maximus Are The New Atos: Destroy Maximus

atos-black-triangleThe BBC are reporting that US company Maximus has won a £500 million contract to take over from Atos administering the despised Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

Maximus, who already have a contract running Iain Duncan Smith’s failing Work Programme, will now carry out the computer based assessments used to strip benefits from sick and disabled people by declaring them ‘fit for work’.

Atos claimed they pulled out of the WCA after staff were threatened.  But this was a fucking lie.  What happened to Atos was much more toxic.  Regular and repeated protests were held outside Atos offices all around the UK, including their glitzy London headquarters.  They were hounded off social media, whilst their corporate identity was repeatedly hijacked despite a string of petty legal threats.  Other parts of their business were affected.  The Co-operative bank were successfully lobbied to end their occupational health contract with Atos.

Everywhere Atos appeared they were hounded by disabled people and claimants determined to expose and disrupt them – and most of all cost them money.  Their attemp at resurrecting their image by sponsoring the Paralympics turned into  PR disaster as large and creative protests exposed this company’s true attitude towards sick and disabled people.  Recruitment events were picketed and  working for Atos beoame a badge of shame amongst healthcare professionals as the company grew increasingly despised.

These are the reasons why Atos abruptly ended their contract with the DWP.  And now we need to do it all again.

Unlike when Atos began the WCA, Maximus know exactly what they are getting into.  They know that these assessments have led to suicides, poverty and ill health.  They just don’t care, because the DWP has stuffed their mouths with gold to rescue the hated assessments.  All these bastards care about is money and so that is where to start.

The first step is gathering information.  Every twitter feed, facebook page, subsidiary business and hidden scandal needs to be unearthed.  We need to know where, and how they do business.  And we need to make sure that people the world over know what this nasty company is about to do to sick and disabled claimants in the UK.  Maximus will have done the sums and decided they can ride out any public outrage against their activities. Let’s surprise them.

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Freud Must Go! Urgent Call Out, Monday Oct 20th Caxton House 12.30pm Or On Twitter #FreudMustGo

lord-fraud-freudAnyone who thinks Lord Fraud ‘mispoke’ or was just ‘thinking outside the box’ when he made the shameful comment that some disabled people are not worth the minimum wage has really not been paying attention.

This is the man that helped devise the despised Atos benefit assessments that have driven disabled people to suicide and ill health in the name of strippping their benefits or forcing them into endless ‘work related activity’.  The same Minister whose department introduced the Work Programme, on which sick and disabled people can be sent on workfare, potentially for months on end.  Lord Fraud was simply saying what he, and his colleagues in the DWP believe, that disabled people lead ‘wasted lives’ and as such do not deserve the same rights as other workers.  That is why this Government has introduced scheme after scheme aimed at coercing – and in some cases forcing – sick and disabled people to work without any pay at all.

There doesn’t need to be a conversation about what Lord Fraud said, as some commentators have suggested.  A conversation that is unlikely to include disabled people or claimants themselves if this week’s news coverage is anything to go by.  The man is a nasty and vindictive piece of shit.  And he needs to go, now.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have called an emergency protest calling for his resignation tomorrow (Monday 20th Oct) at 12.30 pm outside the Department of Work and Pensions in central London.  In the words of DPAC:

“Freud is the architect of the government’s noxious welfare reform programme that is pushing disabled people off benefits and causing untold distress and misery, in too many cases leading to suicides and avoidable deaths.

The policies Freud designed show utter contempt for disabled people. His latest comments made to a Tory councillor at a party conference fringe meeting confirm this …  join us to demand Freud resigns or is sacked. Monday October 20th at DWP head office, Caxton House, Tothill Street, 12.30pm til 2.30″

If you can’t make it to the DWP you can still get involved in online action with the #FreudMustGo twitterstorm, details at: http://dftr.org.uk/Songbird.php?TweetFile=FreudMustGo

Time is short, please share, tweet etc and help get the word out.

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Number of People Claiming Sickness Benefits Hits Two Year High

ESA-claims1The number of people claiming out of work sickness or disability benefits has hit a two year high provisional statistics from the DWP show.

2,510,000 people are estimated to have been claiming either Employment Support Allowance, or the benefit it is replacing Incapacity Benefit, in July 2014.  This is around 70,000 higher than a year earlier and the higest number since Summer 2012.

With Atos assessments finding people with cancer and other serious health conditions ‘fit for work’, there can be no doubt that these claims are genuine.  Yet despite hundreds of thousands of people having benefits slashed due to the bungled health tests, it seems that people are still getting sick.

This is hardly suprising.  Despite the endless propaganda from the DWP, the UK did not have significantly more people on out of work sickness or disability benefits than comparable economies even before the current callous regime was introduced.  In any society there will be some people who are not able to work due to a health condition, accident or serious disability.  No amount of assessments, workfare or benefit sanctions will change that.

It would come as a shock to the out of touch bureacrats at the DWP that there have always been many people on long term unemployment benefits who in reality shold have probably been on the sick.  Some people feel making a claim for sickness benefits is giving up, others, particularly those with mental health conditions, may not be diagnosed or have a full understanding of their condtion.  One reason for a rise in sickness benefit claimants – at a time when unemployment is allegedly falling – may be that workfare and the endless ‘work related activity’ imposed by Jobcentres is making these people too ill to stay on unemployment benefit.

There is some evidence for this.  A DWP evaluation in 2012 found that people referred to Mandaory Work Activity were more likely to make a claim for sickness benefits than those who didn’t face workfare.  Other evidence shows that the assessment process for sickness benefits may be having a devastating impact on people’s mentak health.  Other reports have shown how benefit sanctions have caused people to be unable to meet special dietry needs, or going hungry, or being forced to beg or go through bins to find food.

Whatever the reason, and the huge backlog in sickness benefit assessents will be another factor, the number of people unable to work due to sickness or disability now looks set to have risen steadily over the past seven months.  It increasingly looks the case that all Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms have done for people on sickness benefits is make them sicker.

You can read the latest figures at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/dwp-statistical-summaries-2014

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Number of Sick And Disabled Claimants Facing Sanctions Triples In Just Six Months

sanction-sabsThe number of sick or disabled people who have had there benefit sanctioned for not taking part in ‘work related activity’ has almost tripled compared to just six months ago the latest figures show.

7.507 claimants on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), had their benefits sanctioned in March 2014, up from 4,698 the previous month and 2,369 In Sepetember 2013.  This has taken the total number of ESA claims sanctioned to over 100,000 since the regime was disgracefully introduced by Labour.

These clamaints are in the Work Related Acivity Group (WRAG) of ESA, meaning they have been judged unable to work at present but may possibly be well enough for employment in the future.  They include people with serious and life-threatening conditions including cancer.  Astonishingly this group are still sent on the Work Programme, where they may face compulsory ‘back to work’ training or even workfare.  Should they fail to attend any activity the private sector providers running the scheme dream up then they will have their benefits sanctioned.

These are not the only sick and disabled claimants who face sanctions.  Inhumane Atos assessments have led to many people with serious health conditions or disabilties being forced to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.  According to the DWP, since the tougher new sanctions regime was introduced in December 2012, over 150,000 disabled people have had their benefits stopped.  Whilst people on sickness benefits only generally lose a portion of their benefits, those on JSA can lose every penny.  For people with special dietery needs or other conditions, this can prove fatal as the tragic death of David Clapson recently showed.

Appalling many of those sanctioned will have been driven into poverty due to failure to attend workfare with so-called charities and community organisations.  The first names of these organisations accepting workfare placements on the latest scheme, which involves 780 hours of unpaid work, are now starting to leak out.  Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health (@_LAMH_ also on facebook) have been reported to be accepting this form of workfare and have remained silent about their grotesque exploitation since being exposed.  @SumoWaste have protected their tweets on twitter and also have nothig to say about their grubby exploitation after they were named and shamed on the facebook page of Edinburgh Coaltion Against Poverty.  Also recently named as taking part are @DISC_Services, a so-called charity who will be receiving tax payer’s money to arrange workfare placements and who are also on facebook.

The DWP refuse to name the charities taking workfare placements, if you know of one contact Boycott Workfare to have them named and shamed.

Please sign, share and tweet the petition for an inquiry into the benefit sanctions that killed David Clapson: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

The latest benefit sanctions figures can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/jobseekers-allowance-and-employment-and-support-allowance-sanctions-decisions-made-to-march-2014

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Iain Duncan Smith In The Dock Again Over Unlawful Atos Assessments

MHRNThe DWP are back in court next week for the closing part of a successful challenge to the despised Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

This is the test run by Atos which is used to find people ‘fit for work’ and stop their sickness or disability benefits.  It is mired in chaos with a huge backlog of appeals and an ever growing number of tragic deaths linked to the process.  Even Atos themselves are pulling out of the assessments after fierce campaigning saw their carefully managed corporate identity demolished due to their involvement in the cruel and bungled system.

The WCA has also had its share of legal problems after a Judicial Review last year ruled the assessments are unlawful under the Equalities Act for those with a mental health condition.   Rather than accept this defeat and improve or scrap the tests for this group of claimants – or better still everybody –  Iain Duncan Smith appealed this decision and lost.  During the time this took many people will have seen their mental health worsen, been admitted to hospital or even taken their own life due to being forced to undergo assessments which are not suitable for their condition.

Next week’s court case will largely be about what amendments can be made to make the WCA legal.  As Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) explain:

“Under the Equalities Act of 2010, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is required to make “reasonable adjustments” to mitigate any disadvantages experienced by disabled people. The forthcoming hearing will be concerned with establishing what adjustments the DWP should make to the WCA process. We already know from the original hearing that they plan to run a pilot study to assess the “reasonableness” of obtaining further medical evidence. We want to ensure that any study will be fair, honest and approached with an open mind. Unfortunately we find it hard to trust that this will happen.”

A vigil called by MHRN and supported by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) will be held outside the court next week on Tuesday, 8th July 2014 at 12 noon to 2 pm.  Head to the Royal Court of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL.  Full details at: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/07/vigil-for-the-wca-judicial-review-tues-8th-july/

MHRN say they have been too cautious about publicising this important victory.  Sometime people have been working so hard for so long that they don’t even see when or what they’ve won.  But the Work Capability Assessment – introduced by Labour and which looked unbreakable at the time the current government weren’t elected – is beginning to look broken.  That didn’t happen by accident.  It happened because disabled people and benefit claimants have fought these vicious assessments in the courts, on the internet and in the streets.

The real opposition to this Government has not been the Labour Party, the unions , charities or even the growing range of celebrity left-wimgers.  It has been people who are disabled, sick, carers or people on their own with kids to look after.  People dealing with shit housing, homelessness, low or no wages, the bedroom tax, workfare, benefit sanctions and most of all poverty.  The people that liberal do-gooders call vulnerable and the Tory press calls benefit scum.  Yet we keep winning and those victories should be shouted from the rooftops.  As MHRN say:

“We believe that it is vital that people do know about this victory. After all, outrageous lies about disabled benefit claimants have been shouted from the rooftops in much of the national press. Yet where have the front page headlines about this victory been? Nowhere! We now want to rectify this by making as much noise as possible about the truth: that the WCA does not fairly assess people with mental health problems and there has been terrible suffering as a result.”

Please blogs, tweet,share and spread the word about the MHRN/DPAC vigil, and about the court case.

Don’t forget this Friday’s Independence Day Party outside the DWP and around the UK called by DPAC.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Number Of Employment Support Allowance Claims On The Rise – Is Iain Duncan Smith Making Us Sick?

IDS-I-dont-care-whos-diedThe total number of claimants claiming out of work sickness or disability benefits rose by 15,000 between March and April provisional DWP statistics report.

2.485 million people were claiming Employment Support Allowance or Incapacity Benefit in April, representing a steady rise of 1.2% since November 2013. This comes despite the horrific Atos regime which has seen hundreds of thousands of claimants being stripped of benefits after being assessed as ‘fit for work’.  The number of people on out of work sickness benefits should be plummeting, and it was until just over a year ago.

It is hardly surprising that people are still becoming ill or disabled despite the magical Atos assessments. The UK did not have significantly more people on out of work sickness or disability benefits than other comparable countries even before the despised Work Capability Assessment began. It is unusual however that the number of people unable to work for health reasons should be rising at a time when unemployment is allegedly falling.

There is growing evidence that Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are damaging people’s health. Some parts of the UK have reported soaring malnutrition linked to benefit cuts. A report produced by Citizen’s Advice last year told of people being unable to meet special dietary needs due to sanctions or having to beg or go through bins to find food. Homelessness charities have said that sanctions are causing people to lose their homes. And a damning report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland claimed that 35% of psychiatrists said at least one of their patients had been admitted to hospital as a consequence of the stress of Atos assessments.

Using hunger and homelessness as a weapon against benefit claimants will not incentivise people to find work, it will demolish lives.  Forcing people with mental health conditions into stressful and demeaning assessments under the threat of destitution will not magically cure them of their condition – in many cases it will make it worse.  Iain Duncan Smith really is making us sick, and with more workfare and sanctions on the way then things are only going to get worse.

The latest ESA figures can be downloaded from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-statistical-summaries-2014

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid