Tag Archives: PIP

Who’s Fighting Welfare Reform

As promised earlier in the week, here’s a list of some of the groups around the UK currently fighting welfare reform.  This list is not exhaustive, apologies to anyone I’ve missed, please post up links to any other claimant groups, websites and facebook groups in the comments.

All groups are open to everyone to get involved in – contact them to join the fightback.

Please share, blog, tweet and help spread the word about all groups.

National Groups

Boycott Workfare – fighting forced labour and unpaid work:  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/boycottworkfare
on twitter @boycottworkfare

Also fighting workfare and keeping claimant’s informed of their rights – http://www.donotsign.com/

Black Triangle Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights involved in organising many protests against Atos and Welfare Reform as well as lobbying and campaigning work: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blacktriangle11
on twitter @blacktriangle1

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) – National group who’ve organised many actions in London and elsewhere including blockading Oxford Street and Occupying the DWP: http://www.dpac.uk.net/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/
on twitter @Dis_PPL_Protest

DPAC also have a network of local groups – for local contact details visit: http://www.dpac.uk.net/contact-details-for-local-dpac-groups/

Solidarity Federation – Not specifically a claimant group by a long way but are running a national campaign against workfare. Were recently successful in forcing Holland & Barrett to stop using unpaid labour and have now turned attention to Poundland – for all details, including local pickets of workfare using shops visit: http://www.solfed.org.uk/

Other national groups which have been involved in action against welfare reform include UK Uncut, Right to Work Campaign, UNISON Community Union, Anarchist Federation and the PCS Union.

Local Groups

Glasgow: Crutch Collective – fighting welfare reform, workfare and Atos, visit http://thecrutchcollective.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Crutch-Collective/132893236781931?sk=wall

Brighton Benefits Campaign – long running campaign which organises regular actions and protests: http://brightonbenefitscampaign.wordpress.com/

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty – another long running campaign, lots of info on their website at: http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Edinburgh-Coalition-Against-Poverty/181015481950367

Liverpool Claimants Network – very active group have organised meetings, actions, protests and communications blockades: http://antiworkfare.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/liverpoolclaimantnetwork/
on twitter @claimantnetwork

Birmingham Against the Cuts – not just benefits related but have organised lots around welfare: http://birminghamagainstthecuts.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BirminghamAgainstTheCuts
on twitter @BrumAgainstCuts

Winvisible – Women With Visible and Invisible Disabilities – based in Crossroads Women’s Centre, Kentish Town: http://www.winvisible.org/

Manchester Against Benefit Cuts (part of Manchester Coalition Against Cuts): http://www.coalitionagainstcuts.org.uk/

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group – hold weekly meetings, more info at: http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/

Bradford Claimants Union – not much detail online but have a facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bradford-Claimants-Union/178195065573385?sk=info
email: bradfordclaimants@gmail.com

York Welfare Campaign: http://yorkwelfarecampaign.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/york.welfarecampaign

Mental Health Resistance Network – largely South London based group: http://mentalhealthresistance.org/

Nottingham and Tyneside both have claimant union groups – although its not clear from the web how active they currently are:

http://ncu.wikispot.org/

http://tynesideclaimantsunion.wordpress.com/

Plymouth Claimants Union have taken action against welfare reform and Atos, not sure if they are active, email them at: plymouthclaimantsunion@yahoo.co.uk

Online Groups

Benefit Claimants Fightback – facebook group which was involved in last years national days of action against benefit cuts: http://www.facebook.com/groups/116432071735566/

Social Welfare Union – a union of welfare campaigners fighting benefit cuts: http://socialwelfareunion.org/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SocialWelfareUnion
on twitter @WelfareUnion

We Are Spartacus – network of disabled bloggers, campaigners and supporters. Recently released The People’s Review of the WCA Report available at: http://wearespartacus.org.uk/

DWP Examination forum – friendly forum for all those struggling with the WCA and welfare reform: http://www.dwpexamination.org/

Unemployment Movement Forum – forum for all things claimant related: http://unemploymentmovement.com/forum/index

Anti-Atos Alliance – facebook group fighting Atos and the WCA: http://www.facebook.com/groups/AntiAtosAlliance/

After Atos – another facebook group supporting survivors of the brutal Atos regime: http://www.facebook.com/groups/afteratos/

Disability Defence: Facebook group fighting for disabled people’s rights: http://www.facebook.com/groups/disabilitydefence/

Respect for the Unemployed and Benefit Claimants – long running facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/25024876259/

Websites

http://intensiveactivity.wordpress.com/
http://benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.co.uk/
http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/
http://harpymarx.wordpress.com/
http://wheresthebenefit.blogspot.co.uk/
http://watchinga4e.blogspot.co.uk/
http://www.latentexistence.me.uk/
http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk/

Twitter

To keep up on welfare issues also follow: @patspetition, @IzzyKoksal, @Fight_Workfare, @postpolionews, @Quinonostante, @doNOTsign, @solfed_iwa, @shivmalik1, @missdennisqueen, @LindaBurnip,@suey2y, @HouSolidarity, @AtosStories, @BendyGirl, @redjolly1, @e_lisney, @AtosVictims1, @Miss_Ben_E_Fit, @CarerWatch, @AtosKills, @BrumProtestor, @DarkestAngeL31, @NCCLols, @BrokenOfBritain, @pcs_union, @a4ehighpark1, @VirtualResistan, @slsolfed, @lisybabe,‏ @wheresbenefit, @FalseEcon, @UKuncut

You can follow me @johnnyvoid

How Much Did Atos Lie To Win PIP Contract?

The PIP tender reveals that poverty pimps Atos misrepresented their relationship with several organisations to win the  £540 million contract to carry out the upcoming Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are seeking legal action after Atos claimed they were in regular consultation with them to discuss any concerns about their health and disability assessments.  In fact DPAC have been some of the most outspoken critics of the company and have organised countless protests aimed at Atos.

Atos claim this bare-faced lie was a mistake.  Other charities Atos claim to consult with at national and local level include Citizens Advice, Mencap, DRUK, MIND, Macmillan Cancer Support, RNIB, SENSE, The National Autistic Society, the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health and the Scottish Association of Mental Health.  Whether there is any truth in these claims remains to be seen.

Now other organisations named by Atos are coming forward to reveal that they have been misrepresented in the tender.  Big Mouth Media (now LBi) are named as Atos’ suppliers who will be responsible for pro-actively monitoring social media to judge any areas of ‘public concern’ into their activities.

As revealed in the comments here, LBi deny they are involved with Atos. stating clearly:

“I’d just like to clarify that bigmouthmedia, which is now part of LBi, does not work with ATOS Healthcare in any way. We were initially involved in a project to help them better understand social media, but in February this year we decided to bring an end to our relationship. Furthermore, we were categorically not involved with the closure of any website, blog or online community space on behalf of ATOS Healthcare.”

The Atos contract is dated May 2012, meaning Big Mouth Media/LBi had already ended the relationship when the tender was submitted.  An unofficial spokesperson for LBi has claimed on facebook that there was a ‘difference of opinion’ between the companies.

Atos’ dodgy claims don’t end there.  Ever opportunistic Labour MPs have called for an “immediate investigation” into the PIP tender after Atos claimed they would be working with organisations such as Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), Disability Cornwall and ecdp (formerly Essex Coalition of Disabled People).

All of these Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) have firmly rejected the claim they would have anything to do with Atos.  According to a piece recently published on the DPAC website, Richard Currie, an executive member of GMCDP said of the claims:

“As an organisation we are not keen to work with organisations that actively make life more difficult for disabled people.

“We would never want anything to do with Atos. We do not feel they are a fit and proper company to do the assessments, as they proved with the employment and support allowance claimant debacle.”

Hundreds of millions of pounds are to be handed over to Atos to manage the new disability assessments on which PIP is based.  One fifth of disabled people are set to lose benefits when the new system is introduced.  Atos’ claim that the very real suffering to disabled people that this will cause is to be minimised by them engaging with disabled claimants is based on little more than hot air.

For the victims of the Work Capability Assessment, already forced into workfare and poverty by the actions of Atos, the news that Atos lie will sadly be of no great surprise.

Atos to Sub-Contract PIP Contract Back to NHS!

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the new benefit regime set to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), has descended into farce before it even gets started.  Atos ‘Healthcare’, the company who have been contracted to manage the new disability assessments, are to sub-contract the work in Scotland back to an NHS based social enterprise.

Salus, who provide occupational health services and plough all profits back into the NHS, will now run the new assessment system on behalf of Atos says the Daily Record today.  This follows a determined campaign by disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters in Scotland to end the involvement of IT firm Atos in benefit assessments.

Atos carry out the notorious Work Capability Assessment (WCA), a crude computer based system which has been used to strip vital benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick or disabled claimants.  An increasing number of suicides have been directly linked to the humiliating and traumatic assessment regime.  A recent investigation found 23 people a week die after being declared able to work by the company and forced into endless ‘Work Related Activity’ with charities and welfare to work companies.  According to plans floated by the DWP these people may soon face unlimited workfare should they have the cheek to live long enough.

The Government is planning to use the same model to re-assess all working age claimants on Disability Living Allowance when it becomes Personal Independence Payment (PIP)  next year.  The stated aim is to strip disability benefits from 20% of disabled people.  Atos were given the UK wide contract to carry out the assessments earlier in the year.

Today’s announcement means that Atos will take the huge cash payments available under PIP, pocket a cut and then sub-contract the work to an NHS based organisation.  This humiliating announcement for the Government will mean Atos are basically being paid to do nothing in Scotland.

Atos have seen protests outside their Scotland HQ in Livingston due to their involvement in benefit assessments, as well as regular protests at their premises in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and elsewhere.  Similar protests have taken place throughout England and Wales.

The Black Triangle Disability Campaign have been at the forefront of the struggle against Atos and successfully lobbied  Scottish GPs  to denounce the testing regime, a move soon followed by the UK wide BMA.

Predictably the Daily Record, a Scottish tabloid owned by Mirror Group Newspapers (who in fairness have been carrying extensive coverage of the brutal Atos farce) are taking the credit for Atos’ decision.  Campaigners from Black Triangle and elsewhere will know the truth.  It was disabled people and benefit claimants what won it.

Unfortunately it remains to be seen if anything will change in practice.  Whilst Atos will no longer carry out the assessments, the model of assessments will be the same flawed model as the one currently use to harass, torment and impoverish Employment Support Allowance claimants.

Of perhaps most concern is that Salus, who will now carry out the assessments,  boast on their website that they: “are one of the very few organisations in the UK which utilise the bio psychosocial model as recommended by Dame Carol Black in her report ‘Working for a Healthier Tomorrow’ (2008). “

This report was commissioned by the DWP and used as justification for the Work Capability Assessment.  The bio-psychosocial model is a piece of pseudo-scientific bullshit constructed by the private health and income/disability insurance companies in an effort to minimise paying insurance claims.  Dame Carol Black is known to have met several times with Income Protection scum Unum, the company many have suspected of driving welfare reforms in the UK behind the scenes.

So whilst this announcement by Atos is a victory for campaigners and a bloody nose for the Government, disabled people may yet find themselves facing just another bunch of bastards, this time acting under a cloak of NHS respectability.

ATOS games week of action – Protests Planned in 10 Locations Around UK So Far

Join The Atos Games!
On your marks, get set…
for a week of Paralympic fun and games against Atos!

From Monday 27th to Friday 31st of August, join Disabled People Against Cuts for The Atos Games – five days of action against a company that’s sponsoring the Paralympics but wrecking disabled people’s lives.

We are calling on disabled people, disabled activists, families, colleagues, friends and supporters to come together and fight back against Atos’s attacks. Atos represents as dangerous an opponent as any government, law or barrier the disability movement has faced in its long history. It’s not just welfare, but our very identity and our place within society that is under attack.

And we are asking the whole of the anti-cuts movement to join us in our opposition to the company most responsible for driving through the government’s brutal cuts agenda. Let’s make it Games over for Atos!

Latest info from around the UK:

Plymouth:   11am – Tuesday 28th August

Argosy House, Marsh Mills (next to McDonald’s)

For lifts from the City Centre and Mutley, please contact PCU at:  plymouthclaimantsunion@yahoo.co.uk

Manchester:   Noon - Tuesday 28th August

ATOS, Manchester, Albert Bridge House

Protest outside the offices of ATOS Healthcare, the company profiting from sick and disabled people’s misery: https://www.facebook.com/events/408151362575794/

Birmingham: 1pm - Tuesday 28th August

Islington Row, Five Ways House, Five Ways:  https://www.facebook.com/events/334907739929304/

Sheffield: 12.30pm – Tuesday 28th August

Hartshead Square, Sheffield – UKUncut Sheffield have joined forces with Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC)to make sure it’s Games over for Atos during the Paralympics: http://www.facebook.com/events/196007200530031/

Bournemouth: 12.05pm - Tuesday 28th August

ATOS Healthcare WCA Assessment Centre, 1st floor Tamarisk House, c/o Job Centre Plus, 1, Cotlands Road, BH1 3BG:  https://www.facebook.com/events/427050914002653/

Northampton: 11.30am – Tuesday 28th August

Disabled People will be demonstrating at the offices of Atos in Gladstone Road Northampton on Tuesday 28 August from 11:30 to 1:30 and are calling on the whole of the anti-cuts movement to join them.

Liverpool:  Noon – Tuesday 28th August

Mann Island Lower Ground Floor, Port of Liverpool Buildings, Liverpool, L3 1LT: https://www.facebook.com/events/211880045607754/

Swansea:  Noon - Tuesday 28th August

A static protest outside of the Swansea ATOS
assessment centre from 12:00 to 1:00 at Grove House, Grove Place,
Swansea. (This is a big building across the road from the police
station):  https://www.facebook.com/events/515813221766234/

Cardiff:  4.00pm - Tuesday 29th August

Atos KIlls- mass die in to commerate lives lost.  29th August at 16:00 at Aneuren Bevan Statue, Queen Street, see DPAC Caerdydd-Cardiff: https://www.facebook.com/#!/bronwen.caerdydd

London:  12.45pm - Friday 31 August

UK Uncut and DPAC will be shutting down Atos’ London HQ for the Closing ATOS Ceremony. Meet in Triton Square at 12:45pm for direct action and creative protest, with plenty of surprises: https://www.facebook.com/events/217652368360892/

Other actions currently being planned:

Join in The Atos Games however you can – online, on the phone, or on the streets!

·         Monday 27th: We’ll hold a spoof Paralympic awards ceremony, hopefully with some very special guests…

·         Tuesday 28th: Pay a visit to your local Atos office – and maybe even take your protest inside!

·         Wednesday 29th: A coffin full of your messages about Atos will be delivered to its doorstep.

·         Thursday 30th: Phone jam! Let’s flood Atos with calls, and generate a Twitter-storm they can’t ignore!

Please tweet, share, blog, spread the word.

Organise locally – contact DPAC to be added to the list of events around the UK: mail@dpac.uk.net

For latest updates visit: http://www.dpac.uk.net/

Five Days of Action Against Atos – 27th to 31st of August

From Disabled People Against Cuts

Join The Atos Games!

On your marks, get set…
for a week of Paralympic fun and games against Atos!

From Monday 27th to Friday 31st of August, join Disabled People Against Cuts for The Atos Games – five days of action against a company that’s sponsoring the Paralympics but wrecking disabled people’s lives.

We are calling on disabled people, disabled activists, families, colleagues, friends and supporters to come together and fight back against Atos’s attacks. Atos represents as dangerous an opponent as any government, law or barrier the disability movement has faced in its long history. It’s not just welfare, but our very identity and our place within society that is under attack.

And we are asking the whole of the anti-cuts movement to join us in our opposition to the company most responsible for driving through the government’s brutal cuts agenda. Let’s make it Games over for Atos!

We’re not against the Paralympics or the people taking part in it. We’re highlighting the hypocrisy of Atos, a company that soon may be taking disability benefits from the people winning medals for Team GB.

Ever since George Osborne announced he was slashing £18 billion from the welfare budget, the government has paid Atos £100 million a year to test 11,000sick and disabled people every week, then decide whether they’re ‘fit for work’.

Atos uses an inhumane computer programme to do the testing, and trains its staff to push people off benefits. The government has admitted the tests are flawed, and the British Medical Association wants them to end immediately.

But Atos continues to devastate people’s lives. Many have committed suicide because of its testing programme, and over 1,000 people have died of their illnesses soon after being found ‘fit for work’.

We won’t let them get away with murder, so join in The Atos Games however you can – online, on the phone, or on the streets!

·         Monday 27th: A coffin full of your messages about Atos will be delivered to its doorstep.
·         Tuesday 28th: Pay a visit to your local Atos office – and maybe even take your protest inside!
·         Wednesday 29th: We’ll hold a spoof Paralympic awards ceremony, hopefully with some very special guests…
·         Thursday 30th: Phone jam! Let’s flood Atos with calls, and generate a Twitter-storm they can’t ignore!
·         Then on Friday 31st, join us in London where we’re teaming up with UK Uncut for the Grand Finale – an audacious, daring and disruptive action. Last time we shut down Oxford Circus, this time we will be performing miracles…!

Please blog, tweet, share, spread the word!

Updated Information: Right to Ride Protest

From Disabled People Against Cuts (DAPC)

June 19th – DPAC –  RIGHT TO RIDE 

National Day of Action around lack of Accessible Transport 

In London DPAC and Transport for All will be holding a day of action around transport on 19th June.

We hope others will organise similar protests that day wherever they live as we’d like to highlight the problems nationally.

We will be trying to highlight the failings of the transport system as is and saying it wont be fit for purpose in the future when hundreds of thousands more people lose their benefits, and maybe also their right to passported services like motability cars, taxicards, blue badges etc and therefore are forced to use public transport.

Ian Duncan Smith is stripping people of their essential benefits and at the same time saying we should work. We want to highlight how difficult it is for disabled people to get to work using public transport. We want to show why DLA is still essential to disabled people.

We will be asking activists to attend a lobby at the House of Commons in the afternoon at 2pm in Committee Room 21, Upper corridor Houses of Parliament and then travel by bus to the Confederation of Passenger Transport, the umbrella body for all European bus companies in Covent Garden area.

As it takes a while to get through security and be taken to the committee rooms we suggest people should arrive around 1.30pm if possible.

To cause maximum but legal chaos we need as many wheelchair users, visually impaired, deaf and other disabled people to all need to use the same buses at the same time. We welcome support from non-disabled people for this as well. We will be starting to travel from a bus stop where we know bus ramps will not go down to let wheelchair users onto the buses.

We would like you to invite your MPs to the lobby and ask them to travel with us on the short ride to experience first hand the issues facing disabled passengers every day. The press will also be invited to attend with us.

However we also know many of you will not want to lobby your MP or go to House of Commons so if you prefer just to help us bring one of London’s bus routes to a grinding halt simply by getting on and off the buses along a specific route then please met us at 4pm either outside House of Parliament visitor entrance or at Abingdon Street bus stop, next to Victoria Tower and more or less opposite College Green.

We have invited Maria Miller and Iain Duncan-Smith to join us but so far they have not replied to our request.

Template letter for MPs available at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/06/updated-information-right-to-ride-protest-plus-template-letter-to-mps/

The Vicious Trap That’s Been Laid For Disabled Workers

Disabled workers could be forced into not just unemployment, but homelessness, extreme poverty, workfare or even face being stripped of both employment and benefits for up to three years due to the Government’s vicious welfare reforms.

A recent large scale survey carried out by Disability Rights UK (PDF)  found that 56% of disabled people say they will be forced to stop or reduce work should they be stripped of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).  The Government is replacing DLA with the new Personal independence Payment (PIP), a crude cost-cutting exercise which is openly intended to strip disability benefits from 20% of current claimants.  On top of this the Government is closing the Remploy factories in a move which will see around 1,500 disabled people forced into the benefits system.

DLA is a benefit which is available to those in and out of work alike and is intended to meet the additional costs of living with a disability.  Many people depend on this benefit to allow them to stay in work, using it to pay for extra transport needs, specialist equipment or personal care.

The new assessments for PIP are to be carried out by private companies, using the same discredited model that is currently inflicted on out of work sick and disabled people who depend on benefits to survive.  This practice, carried out by French IT firm Atos, has caused untold devastation, with claimants driven to suicide by the brutal and inhumane system which ignores the opinions of GPs and medical consultants in favour of a short computer based test.  It is too early to say exactly how the process will operate, but if the recent Atos experience is anything to go by, disabled people could face losing benefits because having a job is deemed to prove they are not disabled enough.

Whilst Iain Duncan Smith has claimed that Welfare Reform will make work pay, the truth is that changes to DLA will force tens, if not hundreds of thousands of disabled people out of the workplace.

Many disabled workers have questioned the logic of stripping people of an in work benefit only to make them dependent on out of work sickness or disability benefits.  As Disability Rights UK have pointed out, this measure appears to make little financial sense.

Unfortunately the situation is far bleaker than many people have realised.  Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is the benefit for those unable to work due to sickness or disability.  This was shamefully introduced by the last Labour Government in an attempt to change the parameters of what it means to be sick or disabled.  It introduced the previously mentioned Atos computer based test to determine eligibility for benefits.  The stated aim is not to test whether someone is unable to work due to sickness or disability, but to measure whether there is any work that they could possibly carry out.  Being able to watch an episode of Eastenders has been one notorious factor that has led to people being found ‘fit for work’.

After undergoing the assessment claimants are placed in one of three groups.  Most people are found ‘fit for work’ and are forced onto Job Seekers Allowance. A small minority are placed in the Support Group, meaning that it is accepted they are unable to do any kind of work.  The rest are placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) which means they are deemed to be able to do some kind of work at some point in the future.

Disabled workers forced out of work due to the changes to DLA will be forced back into the assessment process to determine their eligibility for sickness benefits.  And the sad truth is there can be only one outcome under present conditions.  Their recent employment will be used against them and they will be declared ‘fit for work’.

Sick or disabled people will not, as ministers and charities have claimed, be sent to specialist provision run by disability charities to help get them back to work under the Work Programme.  They will be placed in the mainstream JSA system where they will face workfare and benefit sanctions if they do not complete mandated activity.

Over-stretched Jobcentre staff are not trained in the barriers that sick or disabled people may face in the workplace.  Over zealous advisors, under pressure to meet targets from above, can force JSA claimants onto Mandatory Work Activity should they decide someone is not trying hard enough to secure work.  This means four weeks workfare, quite possibly carrying out demanding physical work.  Failure to complete Mandatory Work Activity means benefits will be sanctioned.

More importantly JSA claimants can be forced to take any job under threat of benefit sanctions.  It will not matter if disabled people can’t afford to take the job due to the costs of specialist equipment or transportation needed to get to work.  It will not even matter if the workplace they are to be sent is inaccessible for disabled people as so many are.  Under new rules claimants are to be expected to travel up to 90 minutes in either direction to get to work and back.  This will be impossible for some disabled claimants but it will matter not one bit.

Those who refuse work that is unsuitable, or even impossible, will soon face benefit sanctions lasting three years.

Part time work, under the changes coming when Universal Credit is brought in, will no longer be an option.  Everyone will be expected to work 30 hours a week – or possibly 35 if ministers get their way – and will have benefits sanctioned if they are not deemed to be doing enough to increase their hours.

It is still unclear whether benefit sanctions under Universal Credit will include Housing Benefits.  Disabled former workers, forced out of employment, could be forced into three years homelessness and dire poverty for reasons completely out of their control.

Whether by accident or design some disabled workers face a brutal future.  It is little wonder that so many are now questioning whether it is actually the intention of this toff Government to eradicate completely those that have been deemed unproductive by this cabinet of over-privileged millionaires.

Number of Disabled People Losing Benefits May Top One Million

Paralympian medal winners and war veterans may find themselves stripped of benefits and abandoned to lives of poverty and homelessness under the Government’s brutal disability benefit reforms.

Iain Duncan Smith’s comments in the Telegraph over the weekend should place every serving soldier on notice.  The social contract has changed.  If you get your limbs blown off fighting some rich man’s war then don’t expect the Government to support you when you return home.  IDS has made it clear, people who have had limbs amputated, or are wheelchair users, will no longer be guaranteed support.

IDS, who has previously stated that disabled people lead ‘wasted lives’ due to reliance on benefits, has gone one step further over the weekend, claiming that people on DLA have been left to ‘fester’.  After his recent outburst aimed at disabled workers facing the sack at Remploy factories, IDS’ language is increasingly revealing the nasty little prejudices at the heart of this Government.

It is little wonder that disability hate crime is soaring when senior Government ministers like Iain Duncan Smith are ever ready to launch into a tirade of vicious abuse, smears and lies aimed at disabled people.

The UK Paralympic Team may be surprised that the Government seems to think they have been ‘festering’ in the run up to the Olympics.  Far more concerning however will be the changes to DLA which may see many of them stripped of benefits after the tournament is over.  People claiming out of work benefits due to sickness or disability have been told that being able to watch an episode of Eastenders indicates that they might be fit for work and ineligible for benefits.  It is quite likely that Paralympians may find their sporting achievements used as evidence against them to cut benefit payments.

There is no reason why disabled war veterans or Paralympians should be given any special status above the hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people who also face losing vital and life saving support.  But it is them who will make the headlines when people are forced into suicide, poverty and homelessness.

The Government claims that 500,000 people are to lose DLA when the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment begins next year.  As revealed over the weekend, there is no evidence that these people don’t need, or qualify, for the benefit.  Iain Duncan Smith’s pack of lies in the Telegraph, already demolished, shows he either doesn’t actually understand the DLA process, or more worryingly he doesn’t give a shit how many lives are destroyed by the changes.

Shockingly the number of people who may lose benefit may turn out to be far higher if the experiences faced by sick and disabled benefit claimants who have undergone the notorious Work Capability assessment are anything to go by.

People currently claiming Disability Living Allowance are to be forced to undergo the same kind of intrusive and demeaning checks currently being inflicted on those on out of work health related benefits.  French IT firm Atos have the contract to carry out assessments on benefit claimants and the system has already caused untold suffering with an ever growing number of people taking their own lives due to the process.

The Atos assessment has been designed to declare as many people ‘fit for work’ as possible, despite many of them having serious, and often life threatening conditions.  Although claimants who have been judged unable to work by their own doctor, and in most cases an independent DWP doctor, the magical healing Atos Assessment has judged 37% of people ‘fit for work’ after just a short 20 minute chat.  A further 34% have been judged as fit for work at some point in the future, meaning if they are on contribution based benefits they will lose them after 12 months whatever happens to their health.  A recent investigation by the Daily Mirror found that 32 people a week are dying after being placed in this group.

Whilst huge numbers of Atos’ decisions are overturned on appeal, the Government is quite happy with the Atos system, which is finding far more people ‘fit for work’ than ever expected.  It is clear that there will be pressure on whichever private sector poverty pimps are employed to carry out the new assessment for PIP to replicate these results.  So impressed are this Government with Atos’ performance that they have been placed on a list of preferred bidders for the new PIP Assessment contract.

If the experience of the Work Capability Assessment is replicated in the new PIP system then the number of sick and disabled people losing benefits is quite likely to top one million.  This will be seen as just as much a success as the Work Capability Assessment and will be used to demonstrate that people on disability benefits are largely frauds, or faking their conditions.

This is not idle scare-mongering.  It is happening to sick and disabled claimants on out of work benefits right now.

That Iain Duncan Smith thinks he’s being brave by destroying disabled people’s lives reveals everything we need to know about the toff Government.  The Tory party haven’t changed in the slightest despite Cameron’s oily spin.  They are as nasty and out of touch as ever.  But no Government in living memory has been so brutal as to strip vital support from disabled citizens to fund tax cuts for the super rich.

Iain Duncan Smith’s father was a war hero who fought against a fascist government that believed disabled people were a drain on society to be eradicated.  How ashamed he would feel were he alive to see his own son taking yet one more step down that contemptible  path.

Benefit Cuts Are Good For Your Health Claim Tories!

The latest Impact Assessment on disability benefit changes, which was sneaked out under cover of the elections, makes the bold claim that slashing disability benefits is good for the health of disabled people.

Around a fifth of disabled people are set to lose vital benefits when Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is replaced with the Personal Independence Payment as early as next year.  This is all just fine though according to the DWP.  The latest document, which is an update of the Impact Assessment published last year, states that:

“Income and health are related, with those on low incomes having higher rates of disease, ill health and mortality than those on high incomes. However, evidence is limited as to whether a change in income has an effect on health.”

When the first version of the Impact Assessment was published this claim was sourced to this study (PDF) which actually says that changes to income have at most a small impact on health, in the short term, based on some people in New Zealand.  It poses the question of whether lower income leads to poor health or whether poor health in fact leads to lower income.  Once again the DWP is distorting research to suit their own agenda.

This reference has disappeared from the latest version of the Impact Assessment.  In true DWP style, last year’s impact assessment appears to have been ‘disappeared’ with the latest update replacing it on the exact same web  address: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/dla-reform-wr2011-ia.pdf

You can read last year’s version of the document via google.

The DWP recently rewrote a document on workfare in a crude attempt to cover up for Chris Grayling’s lies.  This time round it looks more like cock up than conspiracy.  The DWP don’t seem to be very good with computers.  Thank fuck they’re not about to be placed in charge of the most complex and largest Government IT database ever designed in human history.

The latest version of the impact assessment carries on with the theme of life-saving benefit cuts claiming:  “It is possible that the policy could have positive impacts on health if it leads to more disabled people moving into work.”

There is no evidence that cutting DLA,  available to people in and out of work alike, will mean more disabled people enter the workforce.  The opposite is almost certainly true.  In a recent survey 56% of disabled people in work said they would have to stop or reduce work if they lost DLA (PDF).

Once again the DWP are making ludicrous claims without any evidence to back them up.  This is increasingly typical of the bullshitting bastards in charge of the department, such as compulsive liar Chris Grayling and his delusional puppet master Iain Duncan Smith.

The Government can’t win the argument on Welfare Reform and are resorting to ever more deceptions, exaggerations and cover ups instead.  It is clearly just fucking bullshit that stripping a benefit aimed at helping working disabled people pay for the costs of their disability will help them find work.  Just as it is bullshit that any sick or disabled people are likely to find work through the collapsing Work Programme.  It is equally bullshit that young people are helped into work by workfare schemes, or that fraudulent training providers like A4e are doing anything more than ripping off the tax payer.  The DWP and the truth have long since departed.  Their flimsy attempts at justifying savage policies, already driving people to suicide, are little more than pathetic.

The Department of Work and Pensions is no longer fit for purpose, unless that purpose is solely the destruction of people’s lives in revenge for them being disabled or unemployed.  It is little wonder so many people suspect this to be the case.

Atos Occupied!

Activists from Occupy Newcastle invaded the Atos Assessment Centre in the city yesterday in protest at the brutal disability and health assessments carried out by the company.

French IT firm Atos have the contract to carry out the Government’s Work Capability Assessment, a short computer based test which is used to establish eligibility for the sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance.  Hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people have been stripped of benefits, or placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).  A recent investigation found 32 people a week are dying after being placed in this group.  People in the WRAG group can face benefit sanctions should they not carry out pointless back to work activities inflicted on them by poverty pimps like A4e, or the money grabbing charities who are sub-contractors for the Government’s failing Work Programme scheme.

Atos are one of the companies bidding for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) contract.  This is a similar testing regime to the one currently run by Atos and is being designed to strip Disability Living Allowance from a fifth of disabled people.

Atos have seen protests outside their offices across the UK with regular demonstrations also staged outside their gleaming London Headquarters.

These protests show no sign of dying down as yesterday’s actions prove.  Campaigners occupied the waiting area of Atos’ Arden House where they performed street theatre.  According to indymedia, they met the usual contempt for claimants from Atos staff, with one of the occupiers saying:

“ATOS security and staff were quick to show their complete contempt for people out of work with the management telling activists to ‘stop being lazy and get a job’. They attempted to stop the protest from being filmed, confiscated the table being used as a prop (injuring someone in the process) and called the police. Despite these attacks the demonstration was successful.”

Meanwhile the Nottingham Defence Campaign has published a pamphlet highlighting both Atos’ treatment of sick and disabled benefit claimants, as well as the increased use of political policing in the city.

Last year two people were arrested and charged with Aggravated Trespass after a peaceful protest outside Atos’ Nottingham offices.  A solidarity campaign drew support from around the UK, with more demonstrations held in Nottingham in support of those charged, who were dubbed the ‘Atos Two’.

In a major victory for the campaign, the charges were eventually dropped as the complainant (Atos) no longer supported the prosecution.  This is not the first time the company has backed down.  After their attempts to censor the internet last year by issuing a wave of legal threats and take down notices to those critical of them, scores of websites defied their legal bullying.  Atos appear to have retreated, with no action taken against the websites which published material that Atos considered ‘tasteless’.

The pamphlet, which can be downloaded here (PDF) contains the story of the Atos Two, as well as many other resources including advice for those facing the Atos testing regime.  It also includes a copy of the joint letter signed by countless campaign groups, as well as health and social care professionals, which was sent to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

A print version of the pamphlet can be ordered for a quid, for more info contact: nottsdefence [at] riseup.net

This will not be the end of action directed at Atos and should provide a taster of what’s to come for the rest of the poverty pimp scum bidding to take on the Personal Independence Payment assessments.