Tag Archives: atos kills

RIP Tim Salter and Denis Jones. Is This What You Wanted Iain Duncan Smith?

Iain-Duncan-Smith415Ever since this Government weren’t elected the question has been raised whether Iain Duncan Smith really is a murderous tyrant, or whether he’s just a fucking idiot.

The truth is that it doesn’t really matter anymore.  The end result of his policies will be the same whichever is the case.  A result as tragic as it was predictable, as poverty not seen in generations returns to the UK.

The recent case of Tim Salter, who committed suicide after benefits were stopped due to the brutal Atos assessment regime, is far from the first death directly linked to welfare  reforms.  At the end of last month two suicides linked to Atos assessments were reported in just one week. Also reported just before Christmas was the death of Denis Jones, a disabled former soldier who died alone five weeks after his benefits were stopped.  Whilst his death was recorded as natural causes a close friends has revealed the horrific circumstances he had been living in, telling the Bolton News that:

“He was dependent upon income support and without it he couldn’t heat his home or pay his electricity bill. He became dependent on food parcels and the generosity of friends but he was crushed under the pressure of it all.”

It is not just the growing number of deaths linked to welfare reforms which gives a glimpse of the terrifying future many of the poorest now face.  The use of foodbanks has rocketed over recent months, even prompting a parliamentary debate from the ever opportunistic Labour Party.  But all of the main political parties, and the Lib Dems, are committed to the demolition of social security, they are merely quibbling about the details.   This is why the largest cause of hunger in the UK – benefit sanctions which can leave people with no money at all for up to three years – have barely been mentioned by any politician.  The reason for this is that Labour are every bit as committed to benefit sanctions as Iain Duncan Smith.  They started it after all.  Things will not magically and suddenly be alright if the Labour Party manage to win the next election.

The appalling truth is that the entire political class seems to have started believing everything they read in the Daily Mail.  The lurid tales of benefit scroungers have been assumed to be a fair representation of the social security system instead of the warped delusions of the swivel-eyed right.

The impression has been given that welfare in the UK is so generous that vicious cuts can be made without anyone getting hurt.  Politicians and right wing newspapers alike have created the fabrications that claimants are living in the lap of luxury, sick or disabled people are probably faking it and that there is a plentiful supply of jobs and cheap housing for those who choose to look.  The reality – which is that those dependent on benefits were already living in desperate poverty even before the cuts – has been completely ignored in the savage chase to blame the poor for the economic crisis created by the rich.

Over the next year, as bungled welfare reforms take place in the most casual and haphazard manner possible, we are set to see the outcome of this manufactured contempt for the poor – and it really has only just begun.  Many people are dependent on discretionary housing payments to meet the shortfall in their income due to the benefit cap or bedroom tax.  These payments will run out soon.  The number of benefit claims sanctioned is likely to soar even further as ever more ludicrous conditionality is invented to claim the pittance of Jobseekers Allowance. Reform of Disability Living Allowance, which will see around a fifth of disabled people lose benefits, has barely even begun.  The Atos assessments will continue, and even those judged unable to work may still face workfare.  Possibly hundreds of thousands of claimants face court action due to Council Tax benefit reform.   Housing Benefit caps are fast making many cities completely unaffordable for the poor.  And next April, as food prices, fuel bills, fares and rents continue to soar, all claimants, including many of the poorest pensioners, will face a real terms cut in benefits.

The only question that now remains is just how bad are things likely to get?  How many people will lose their homes, how many thousands, or millions, of children will go hungry?  How many more heartbreaking deaths will occur like the ones we heard about throughout December?

Iain Duncan Smith either doesn’t care or is truly deluded about the consequences of making the poorest even poorer.  Despite talk of austerity, the rest of the cabinet seem to think that money falls from the sky, which it does if you happen to be George Osborne or David Cameron.  No-one in this Government, and few in Parliament, seem to have any understanding that money actually runs out if you happen to be poor.  To take away the last few pounds that someone needs to survive will not just make them hungry, desperate and depressed but could be a death sentence.

This inhumanity, in one of the richest countries in the world, must be brought to an immediate end.  A massive escalation in the fight against all welfare reforms is the only way to achieve that.

If things seem bleak that’s because they are.  But Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are as bodged as they are brutal.  Without the connivance of charities, functioning welfare-to-work companies, employers, health and social security professionals, housing associations and local councils, all of his policies could turn to dust.  There are many places to inflict pressure or just fuck shit up.  Every weakness in this Government’s plans must be exploited to the full, and new vulnerabilities uncovered.  And every time we find one we should be ramming a spanner in the works, until things start to break.

Stay strong next year, as healthy as you can, and most of all stay alive.  Do not give these bastards what they want.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Another Tragic Atos Death: RIP Jacqueline Harris

atos_kills_bannerA woman stripped of benefits after being found ‘fit for work’ by Atos has taken her own life the Bristol Post have reported today.

According to the newspaper: 

“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.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

10,000 Cuts and Counting: A Ceremony of Remembrance and Solidarity

10,000-cutsA ceremony of remembrance and solidarity for all those who have their lives destroyed by austerity is being held in Parliament Square on Saturday 28th September from noon.  From the organiser’s website:

SCRAP ATOS – END THE WORK CAPABILITY ASSESSMENT

10 Thousands Cuts & Counting is a a ceremony of remembrance and solidarity for those who have had their lives devastated by the austerity programme, including more than 10,000 people who died shortly after undergoing the Atos Work Capability Assessment, the degrading test used by the government to assess the needs of people receiving benefits related to disability and ill health.

The gathering will demand an immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association, and a New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions.

28th September • Parliament Square, London • 12 noon
Disabled people are leading the fight back against the injustices of austerity: we cannot stand idly by while our communities and institutions are devastated by this government.Share the event on Facebook and sign the #wowpetition

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Doctors Told To Abandon Patients Undergoing Vicious Medical Assessments

atos_kills_bannerLocal Medical Councils (LMCs) have been warned they may face legal action over advice telling doctors to shun requests from benefit claimants asking for help with the notorious Work Capability Assessment.

The Black Triangle Campaign and Disabled People Against Cuts have said that even individual doctors themselves may be at risk of being sued should they refuse to provide this vital and sometimes life-saving support for claimants.

Two LMCs have issued advice to GPs warning them not to provide letters for claimants who face the stringent Atos run test for sickness and disability benefits.  According to Pulse Today, the LMC in Lancashire and Cumbria is even considering a ‘Just Say No’ campaign to back doctors who refuse to write letters for patients undergoing assessments and appeals.

Some GPs – who are paid on average £104,000 a year – have complained that writing these letters, which confirm or provide medical opinion on a claimant’s condition, is taking up too much time and they don’t get paid for it.  There has certainly been an increase in the number of people asking doctors for this kind of help as the current benefit slashing regime has taken hold.  But this kind of information can be the difference between someone seriously ill being given the money they need to survive or face having benefits stripped away and even sent on long term workfare.

GPs submitting evidence to the DWP is often the only time that an actual doctor has a say in what happens to their patients in the benefits system.  Without this information claimants are left in the hands of Atos assessors, whose only job requirement is a medical qualification of some sort – often meaning they are physiotherapists, midwives or paramedics.  Should a claimant be judged ‘fit for work’ they will see their meagre income slashed by around a third.  This can have real impacts on claimants who need to keep warm, have special dietary needs or other costs associated with their condition.  They will then be left at the mercy of medically unqualified Jobcentre staff and could be sent on Mandatory Work Activity or other unpaid work schemes under threat of brutal benefit sanctions.

Nobody is asking GPs to lie or do anything but offer an honest assessment of a patient’s condition.  This is something they do everyday when issuing ‘fit notes’ for workers who have had to take time off work.  In fact every single person on an out of work sickness or disability benefit has been signed off work by a GP at some point.  They cannot simply wash their hands of responsibility for these patients now the Government is challenging those decisions.

Local Medical Councils could be helping GPs to provide all the necessary information claimants need as efficiently as possible.  It’s not difficult to imagine ways they could come up with to cut down the time spent by GPs writing these letters.   Already template letters produced by Black Triangle show how the ESA Regulations 29 and 35 can be used by doctors to quickly and easily exempt vulnerable patients from the assessment procedure altogether.

But instead some LMCs are seeking to drive a wedge between patients and GPs by punishing claimants for an additional workload placed on them by the DWP.  Claimants who in an increasing number of cases have been driven to suicide by these brutal and bodged assessments and the misery they have inflicted.  At such a desperate time for so many of the UK’s poorest people it seems some GPs have decided to work to rule and abandon huge swathes of the communities they serve.  We are clearly not all in it together.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Remembering Those Who’ve Died at the Hands of Atos ‘Healthcare’

A well attended and genuinely moving memorial service was held today outside the front doors of Paralympic sponsor Atos to coincide with the opening day of the London Paralympic Games.

Atos carry out the Government’s Work Capability Assessment, a crude computer health test designed to strip disabled people of benefits by declaring them ‘fit for work’.

Disabled people and those with serious health conditions have been subject to endless grueling assessments by the company and an increasing number of people have tragically taken their own lives as a result of the process. Many others have had conditions worsened due to the stress of testing regime whilst a recent investigation found that 32 people a week die after being found ‘fit for work by the company’.

Around 100 disabled people and supporters gathered outside Atos’ gleaming London Headquarters to attend the service.  A coffin, resplendent with white lilies to remember the dead, was carried to the front door of the company alongside funereal music.  Messages sent from disabled people around the UK were released attached to black balloons whilst a minutes silence was held during which even the heavy security presence guarding the company appeared to respect.

The day was part of a week of action against the company which has seen protests outside Atos offices around the UK.  Visit the DPAC website for reports of other events held so far. Campaigners will be back at Atos HQ on Friday when Disabled People Against Cuts team up with UK Uncut for the Closing Atos Ceremony.  Gather at Triton Square, Euston from 12.45pm on Friday 31st August.

Tomorrow sees a day of online and telephone action targeting the company, more info at:  http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/08/dpac-atos-armchair-games-30th-august-the-truth-is-revolutionary/

Protests Planned in Over 20 Towns and Cities as Part of the Atos Games

Over 20 towns and cities will be holding protests aimed at disability denying poverty pimps Atos.  Timed to coincide with the Paralympic Games, of which Atos shamefully are a sponsor, disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters are holding a series of protests around the UK.

The Atos Games will be formally opened tomorrow (Monday 27th August), near City Hall in Central London by Disabled People Against Cuts.  Meet outside City Hall at 5.30pm, more details at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/08/atos-games-opening-ceremony-monday-august-27th/

Then on Tuesday actions and protests will take place around the country targeting Atos, the company which has been happy to profit from Government contracts designed to strip disability and sickness benefits from hundreds of thousands of people.  The full list of actions announced so far is below.

On Wednesday 29th August a Memorial Service will be held in Triton Square outside the company’s London HQ.  Meet at Triton Square, London, at 3:30pm.

Thursday 30th August will see a day of action online and on the phone – Phone jam! Let’s flood Atos with calls, and generate a Twitter-storm they can’t ignore.

Finally on Friday 31st August Disabled People Against Cuts will be teaming up with UK Uncut for ‘an audacious, daring and disruptive action’.  Head to Atos HQ,  Triton Square, London at 12.45pm,  More info at: http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/the-closing-atos-ceremony

List of other actions and events around the UK:

Birmingham – Tuesday 28th, 13:00 – protest at Five Ways House. Islington Row. Edgbaston. Birmingham. B15 1SL

Bournemouth – Tuesday 28th, 12:05 – protest at ATOS Centre, 1st floor Tamarisk House, c/o Job Centre Plus, 1, Cotlands Road, BH1 3BG (assemble outside the JobCentre Plus building)

Bristol – Thursday 30th August, 15:00 – picket/protest outside ATOS offices, Government Buildings, Flowers Hill, Bristol, BS4 6LA .

Cardiff – Wednesday 29th August,17:00 – mass ‘die-in’ to commemorate lives lost. Aneuren Bevan Statue, Queen Street

Derby – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – protest outside ATOS office. More details from Derby Mental Health Action Group mhactiongroup[at]yahoo.co.uk

Edinburgh – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – protest outside ATOS offices, 44 York Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3JW

Exeter – Tuesday 28th, 12:30 – protest outside ATOS office Killerton Road, Park Five, Harrier Way EX2 7HU (with Exeter Anti-Cuts Alliance)

Hull – Tuesday 28th, 11:00 – demonstration outside the ATOS medical assessment centre on Stanley Street, Spring Bank, Hull, HU3 1JP

Lancaster – Tuesday 28th, 13:00 – protest at Mitre House, Church Street, Lancaster LA1 1EQ. In conjunction with Lancaster and Morecambe against the Cuts ; local Trades Union congress; occupy Lancaster UK; and led by local disabled people

Leeds – Tuesday 28th, 13:00 – Meet in City Square, LS1 2ES. Bring banners. We will have leaflets.

Liverpool – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – demonstration outside ATOS offices, Mann Island, Port of Liverpool building, L3 1LT

London – Monday 27th, 17:30 – meet at City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA. Opening ceremony and medal awards
and
Wednesday 29th, 15:30 – Meet near Starbucks/Pret-a-Manger on Triton Square, Regents Place, London NW1 3HG – Delivery of a coffin with messages to ATOS and a memorial of their victims, many of whom have have died.
and
Friday 31st, 12:45 – Grand Finale with UK Uncut. Direct action and protest at ATOS HQ, 4 Triton Square, Regents Place, London NW1 3HG

Manchester – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – protest outside ATOS Manchester, Albert Bridge House Bridge Street, Manchester M60 9DA

Medway – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – Atos Medical Assessment Centre in Batchelor St Chatham ME4 4BJ (just off the High St next to the Jolly Caulkers) – Medway Against the Cuts are organising a picket/protest.

Newcastle – Tuesday 28th, 13:00 – protest outside ATOS offices Arden House, Regent Centre, Regent Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE3 3LZ (opposite Gosforth library).

Northampton – Tuesday 28th, 11:00 – demonstration at ATOS offices, Gladstone Road, Dallington, Northampton, NN5 7QA

Plymouth – Tuesday 28th, 11:00 – demonstration at ATOS offices, Argosy House (next to McDonald’s) , Marsh Mills, Plympton, Plymouth, PL6 8LS
For lifts from the City Centre and Mutley, please contact PCU at: plymouthclaimantsunion[at]yahoo.co.uk

Reading – Tuesday 28th, 11:30 – Eaton Place (off the Oxford Rd), Reading, RG1 7LP. Join us there for solidarity, songs and fun, fun fun. Bring banners with appropriate messages. Banners and leaflets will be available (can also be downloaded and printed) for distribution to curious and info-hungry passers-by. Songsheets will be provided for the tunefully inclined.

Sheffield – Tuesday 28th, 12:30 – demonstration at Hartshead Square, S1 2FD

Southampton – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – meet at Queens Park, Southampton SO14 3BQ.

Stroud – Wednesday 29th, 12:00 – Flyering the public about ATOS – meet outside Stroud JobCentre, Unicorn House, Cornhill Shopping Centre (Union Street), GL5 2JT.
and
Saturday 1st September, 11:00 – Stroud High St (near the Post Box).

Swansea – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – static protest outside Grove House, Grove Place, Swansea SA1 5DF . (This is a big building across the road from the police station).

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/