“PARTIALLY-sighted and only able to walk with the aid of a stick, Jacqueline Harris suffered crippling pain due to slipped discs in her back and neck. Her mobility was reduced further when a dog savaged one of her wrists.
“Despite being in agony which strong pain relief could not ease, the 53-year-old was deemed to be fit for work following a government health assessment and told to find a job.
“Her sister claims the verdict that she was ineligible for disability benefits drove her to take her own life earlier this month.”
Predictably both the DWP, and Atos have attempted to wash their hands of the affair. There will be no apology for this tragic loss of life and Atos claim it is nothing to do with them: “we do not make decisions on people’s benefit entitlement, nor are we involved in the appeal process.”
If this were a banker, or businessman who had been driven to suicide over a Government policy then this story would be on the front page of every newspaper. When a yuppy jumps out of a skyscraper, or a celebrity has a breakdown, we are all invited to share in their tragedy. The rich ‘feel’ things more than the poor the media narrative suggests. Meanwhile reports of suicides due to welfare reform are shrugged off by right wing newspaper columnists as the “act of someone in a fevered, unstable state of mind.” If the poor cannot cope with their poverty then that is a personal failing, not a problem with how society is structured.
Only the wealthy might be troubled by losing their income – the horny-handed working class are expected to get on with things, make do and mend, or queue outside foodbanks with a stiff upper lip. Hunger and homelessness is just a triviality compared to a dent in the investment portfolio or having to sell the second home.
When campaigners have warned that Atos Kills this has not been hyper-bole. The problem is that the ruthless assessments for sickness and disability benefits kill the wrong people to have any major media impact. There is more sympathy for the squeezed middle-classes having to cut down skiing holidays than there is for people driven to desperate acts due to having nothing at all. Atos merely culls in the eyes of this Government and those who support them, and many of them see nothing wrong with that.
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