Responding to questions from a claimant about the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which French IT firm Atos are paid hundreds of millions to administer, Harrison claims the current process is not adequate and is perceived as ‘punishment’ and needs ‘fundamental change’.
Speaking (probably) from her tax payer funded mansion Harrison states:
“It is quite clear that there are issues with the current WCA process and I would urge you to speak to your JCP advisor about any treatment that you feel has been unfair in this process. As I mentioned in response to your earlier question, I strongly believe that we have a duty to capture the potential of everyone and I am strongly opposed to writing people off due to what they cannot do due to a health issue.
Clearly the current process is not adequate and at A4e we working with the DWP to see if there is a better way of designing this process that allows the individual to have more of a role in identifying the work that they would like to undertake. We need to fundamentally change the culture of this process – towards empowerment and away from what is perceived as punishment.”
The Work Capability Assessment has led to thousands of sick and disabled people being denied vital benefits, forcing people, many with mental health conditions, into a strict and demeaning health testing regime which tragically has driven some to suicide. According to the BBC the number of successful appeals against Atos Healthcare’s decisions is still rising.
Obviously it’s not compassion which is driving Harrison’s desire to change the current process. Under new rules workfare providers only get paid if they are able to place people into employment. If the DWP keep referring people who are genuinely to ill to work, but have been found fit for work by Atos’ flawed testing, then workfare contracters like A4e stand to lose a lot of money. This represents a big fucking hole in the government’s continued harassment of benefit claimants.
On top of this Atos have been falling behind drastically in the number of cases they administer. Atos has completed only 56,000 Work Capability Assessments since the commencement of the full national roll out in April. This is against an expected figure of 11,000 cases being assessed each week in order for the government to process 1.5million cases by 2015. Workfare providers are sitting twiddling their thumbs whilst Atos get their act together.
Not that workfare providers are any better. With no disabled people to bully into forced labour it appears many have resorted to ripping off charities to keep the gravy train afloat. Volunteer agencies report that some workfare sharks have been secretly attempting to use charitable organisations to carry out the work they are paid millions to undertake.
Back to Emma Harrison and she also concedes that Workfare programmes failed many people in the US and led to increased child poverty. She hopes that A4e will do better. Few people who have experienced the sub-standard training and pointless job search offered up by A4e will agree.
A Festive Month of Action Against Atos, the Welfare Reform Bill and poverty pimps everywhere including A4e has been called throughout December 2011. You can also sign a petition against the benefit cuts at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968