Tag Archives: Personal Independence Payment

Don’t Blame Us For Disability Benefit Cuts Say Capita, We’re Just In It For The Money

crapita“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”  Nuremberg Principle IV

Nothing sums up the current profit obsessed capitalist culture more than the claim that as long as you are making money then you have no moral responsibility for your actions whatsoever.

This is exactly the position Stephen Duckworth from Capita attempted in The Guardian yesterday to justify their involvement in the upcoming Personal Independence Assessments (PIP) which will see a fifth of disabled people stripped of life-saving benefits.

“Don’t blame us for policy” say poor Capita, the company brutally forced by this Government into making millions of pounds out of abusing disabled people.  “I was only following orders” has been replaced by “I was only making a buck” as the footsoldiers of austerity attempt to spin away their vile behaviour.

Stephen Duckworth is head of Capita’s PIP programme and was interviewed in The Guardian yesterday in what reads like little more than a puff piece for the public services company more commonly known as Crapita.

The new PIP Assessments will be based on the discredited and brutal Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which has driven hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people into poverty, and in some tragic cases suicide.  Infamous IT company Atos run the WCA and alongside Capita will share running the PIP.

Duckworth, who is disabled himself, boasts that 40% of staff working on PIP will be disabled people – except there is no minimum target for the number recruited, so this is basically a lie.  In an echo of the Government’s benefit cuts are good for you spin, he claims that the new regime will be ‘enabling’.

Capita even boast that the new centres will be all on the ground floor, as if having disability assessment centres which are accessible to disabled people is some great triumph.

The truth is that the no doubt handsomely paid Stephen Duckworth, and Capita themselves, are about to make a fortune on the back of human misery.  They are every bit as accountable for the decision to do that as the companies who used concentration camp labour to build the gas chanbers (Atos Healthcare’s corporate partners Siemens since you asked).

Above pic from a blog chronicling Capita’s destruction of public services in the London Borough of Barnet: http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/

Follow me on twitter @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.

Cameron Will Allow Disabled Squaddies To Fester

David Cameron has announced that former service men and women who are injured on duty are to be left to fester on disability benefits, possibly for the rest of their lives.

Soldiers with disabilities are to be denied all the benefits of the upcoming Personal Independence Payment assessments and may not even qualify for the mandatory Work Programme.  It is believed that squaddies injured in battle will now be simply waved through conditionality for disability benefits, condemning them to wasted lives of fecklessness.

Astonishingly soldiers are set to be abandoned to payments for life, with no continuous testing to check whether conditions have cleared up, or disabilities disappeared.

Soldiers will be judged workshy by default, by a perverse system that is set to punish hard work and reward idleness.  In a tragic waste of human life it is believed that former soldiers may not even qualify for workfare.

This must surely be Iain Duncan Smith’s reaction on hearing that Cameron has pledged sick or disabled soldiers will not face the upcoming brutal assessment regime in order to qualify for sickness or disability benefits.

After all, this is the Government that have told us benefit cuts are good for our health, and that the short computer based assessments are helping people to ensure they are on the correct benefit.

The truth is that Cameron’s announcement is an admission that the upcoming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit for sick and disabled people is unfit for purpose.  Of course it is right that soldiers who have lost limbs or suffered other injuries in battle should be supported without constant brutal and humiliating tests – but so should fucking everyone else.

Are only those prepared to go and kill and die in rich men’s wars the only people who deserve a humane welfare state?  What about nurses, teachers, firemen, or the thousands of people injured in industrial accidents?

The new tests for PIP will see everyone on Disability Living Allowance forced into a regime of continuous health and disability assessments by private companies regardless of claimant’s conditions.  This is the same process currently endured by those claiming the out of work sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance.

Yet the Prime Minister himself judges this process so toxic he has moved the goalposts for disabled squaddies in the hope of pacifying a few Sun readers.

In others words if you haven’t got a gun and are sick or disabled this Government doesn’t give a fuck and won’t listen.

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.

Personal Independence Payment – The Next Great Welfare Train Crash

Brutality combined with incompetence are becoming the hallmark of the current Tory administration and the plans to abolish Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are riddled with both.  The Government is driving ahead with their plans to replace DLA with the new Personal Independent Payment (PIP).  The aim of this is to strip benefits from a fifth of disabled people.

This will be achieved by using an independent medical assessment as the key part of the decision making process when considering a claim for the new  benefit.  That assessment will be carried out by a private company.

We already have an effective model of how the new scheme might operate.  The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is a short computer test carried out by French IT firm Atos which is used to determine eligibility for the out of work sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance.  For everyone other the Government and Atos themselves, it has been an unmitigated disaster.  The constant assessment and re-assessment regime has driven an increasing number of people to take their own lives.  A recent Daily Mirror investigation found that 32 people a week die after being declared ‘fit for work’ by Atos.  Around 40% of appeals against Atos’ decisions are successful and the appeals system is in meltdown due to the number of cases being brought.

Despite some tampering around the edges due to a recent review of the process, there are no plans to abolish or significantly reform the WCA.  This should serve as a stark warning to people facing the new PIP testing regime.  The Government are happy with Atos the way things are.  Lots of people are losing their benefits.  That was always all they wanted.

The stated agenda of PIP is to remove benefits from 20% of disabled people.  All other mealy mouthed attempts at reform are secondary to this.  It will be down to the private sector to carry out this cull.  In many ways the PIP process will be identical to the WCA.  It may yet even be Atos who carry out the assessments.

This will not only prove traumatic for the people forced to undergo demeaning health tests, but will bring devastating social costs.  The Government’s plan that “entitlement will depend on the person’s circumstances and the impact of their health condition or disability on their everyday lives” is vague and open to all kinds of interpretation.

How it will be measured in practice is anyone’s guess.  Given it’s the private sector who will be carrying out the bulk of the work the answer is likely to be the cheapest way possible.  It will be difficult to imagine how, for example, being in full time work can be ignored by any assessment.  Under the WCA claimants who have admitted to watching Eastenders have had it used against them as evidence of being ‘fit to work’.  It is therefore very likely that having a job will come to be seen as a disqualifying criteria for claiming PIP, if not formally but as a reality of people’s experiences.  This may not be the Government’s intention, but in practice it seems unavoidable.

Atos, as well as human rights abusers G4s and private sector sharks Serco, are some of the companies believed to be bidding for the PIP contract.  They should be warned it is a thoroughly poisoned chalice.  Atos have already seen their reputation destroyed by the WCA, with the name of their company becoming a dirty word.   This will seem trivial should they take on the PIP Assessments.

DLA is a non means tested benefit designed to help people meet the additional costs of disability or ill health.  In many ways it should be seen as an adjunct to the NHS rather than a benefit comparable to those paid to people unable to work.  DLA is used for things like additional transportation costs, specialist equipment or personal care.  For many working disabled people these things are essential to help them remain in work.  As Disability Rights UK have recently pointed out (PDF), the removal of DLA from over half a million people may drive many into unemployment.

People currently claiming DLA include doctors, lawyers, journalists and MPs. Whilst those claiming out of work benefits are by their very nature economically disempowered (in that they don’t have jobs and are forced into the poverty of the benefits system) many DLA claimants are highly skilled professionals.  We could face the unedifying spectacle of Doctors having their  health and disability needs assessed by the two bit NHS rejects at Atos.  Disabled legal professionals may yet be forced into the appeals system and are likely to prove ferocious.  Any company which takes on the PIP contract will face unprecedented resistance at grass roots level, from people in some cases far more qualified than their own assessors.  It will be doctors, lawyers and journalists lining up alongside benefit claimants to take action against the companies concerned.

Imagine becoming public enemy number for not just the three million plus DLA claimants, but their friends, families and carers.  People with many more skills and resources to fight than those on out of work benefits.  Every mistake, appeal or careless remark by an assessor will be scrutinised.  Assessment centres and other business sites could find themselves thronged with disabled protesters.  An avalanche of legal challenges seems almost inevitable.

It is possible that on the ground a two tier process will develop.  Disabled doctors and lawyers may be informally waved through the process in the hope they won’t make too much fuss.  Can we honestly believe that David Blunkett or a Paralympian Gold Medal winner will face the same kind of scrutiny as an out of work disabled single mum living on a Council Estate?

The alternative is that the PIP assessment will become an unofficial ‘means test’.  Those in work, or able to lead more active lives, may find themselves punished as any sign of independence is used against them.  However the upcoming farce plays out it will prove catastrophic not just for disabled people themselves but for the wider credibility of the system.

As we have seen under the WCA regime, there will be more suicides, more appeals and more people having conditions made worse by the stress of endless testing.  The Government says that only in very few cases will PIP be awarded for life.  This will mean for example, that people who may have lost a limb will be forced back to continual re-assessments, presumably to check it hasn’t sneakily grown back.

Despite lurid headlines DLA is not an easy benefit to qualify for.  A wealth of medical information is required, from GPs, consultants and other health professionals.  As with the WCA, this is likely to become secondary to the short assessments carried out by private companies.  As more disabled people are forced into poverty it will be down to Local Authorities and the NHS to pick up the slack.  Just like so much of this Government’s Welfare Reform, it may yet cost more money to go down this road than simply leaving things as they are.

The Government are currently consulting on the changes and you can make your feelings heard here.  If past consultations are anything to go by then don’t expect them to listen.  The over privileged tory toffs have made their intentions well and truly clear.  Don’t think that this scum will shed any tears for those driven into poverty or even suicide by these changes.  As Maria Miller, the Minister for Disabled People has already said, the cost of disabled people is simply ‘unsustainable’.  That tells us everything we need to know about this Government’s attitudes towards sickness and disability.

Join the growing protests against Welfare Reform including action called in Central London by Disabled People Against Cuts on the 18th April (tomorrow!).

Atos on the Run – the PIP contract is a poisoned chalice

Back when the con-dem government weren’t elected, few people other than benefit claimants had heard of French IT firm Atos Origin, the company Labour shamefully employed to carry out the Work Capability Assessment.  This  health and disability assessment was designed to strip sickness benefits from as many people as possible and has caused untold suffering with some people driven to suicide by the process.  Over the last year this has led to countless protests around the UK outside Atos’ offices and online as the infamy of the company has soared.

The world must be a very different place in Atos’ Public Relations Offices these days.  ‘Atos’ is now a dirty word, synonymous with the worst of corporate cruelty.  As well as demonstrations outside their offices, the internet is awash with websites and stories of people’s experiences at the hands of these bastards, who have declared people with terminal illnesses as ‘fit for work’.

Atos fought back, with legal threats demanding the closure of some websites, which only served to further disseminate information about their activities around the world.  When Atos objected to their logo being used in satirical images budding digital artists came up with new and increasingly creative uses of their corporate identity, based around such  phrases as ‘Atos Kills’, ‘Atos don’t give a Toss’  and ‘Atos Macht Frei’.  A google image search for ‘Atos Kills’ reveals the extent of the anger aimed at this company who have been dubbed the Euthanasia and Racial Purity Arm of the DWP.

Atos’ involvement in the Paralympic Games should have been a PR victory for the company, instead quite the opposite happened.  Poor old Steve Cram, who was appointed as the Atos Olympic Ambassador, has virtually disappeared from view after hundreds of people contacted him to ask what he thinks he’s fucking playing at taking money from these sharks.  Already one demonstration targetting Atos has been held outside a Paralympic Test event.

With demonstrations set to continue Atos appear to have backed off on their aggressive legal campaign to silence critics.  A disabled man and a pensioner were arrested and charged with ‘aggravated trespass’ for peacefully entering one of their assessment centres at a Nottingham protest before Christmas.  After a well supported solidarity campaign in support of the arrested it seems to have been Atos who made the decision to have the charges dropped.

None of this looks like the actions of a company that is confident in their activities.  This is hardly surprising for a firm which was previously largely unknown and is now having to manage the ‘corporate challenge’ of being despised by millions of people.  Atos insiders have claimed morale is at rock bottom and they are finding it increasingly hard to recruit medical staff to carry out their assessments.  The PR damage to the company for taking on this contract is incalculable.  Of course they could hand the contract back any time they want and this would all go away.

The Tories are ploughing ahead with the flawed process regardless as they re-assess benefit eligibility for 2.6 million people claiming Employment Support Allowance.  Should the Welfare Reform Bill become law then they also plan to re-assess over 3 million people claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with the stated aim of stripping benefits from 20% of disabled claimants.

Behind the scenes however the whole system is a shambolic mess.  Atos are staggeringly behind their contract commitment to assess 11,000 people a week, having only completed around 20% of that figure.  40% of people appealing against Atos’ decisions are successful and the appeals system itself is in meltdown due to the number of cases.  Citizens Advice have pointed out that many people losing their benefit at their assessment are simply re-applying and going through the process again.  More and more Doctors and other medical professionals are raising concerns about the medical ethics of the scheme.

This is bound to impact on Atos’ other healthcare business interests, such as the Occupational Health services that are increasingly inflicted on public sector workers and used to dismiss staff for health reasons.  After all Atos boast on their website that they specialise in ‘Headcount Reduction’.  Atos’ healthcare professionals may now recommend you are laid off your job for health reasons whilst finding you fit for work when you apply for sickness benefits.

That the situation is unsustainable is obvious.  Even if Atos are managing to make a profit the damage to their reputation this contract has inflicted is enormous.  When a protest was held outside the BMJ’s annual recruitment fair last years many doctors stated they would not dream of working for such an unethical company.  With medical assessment positions going unfilled it seems that Atos literally can’t get the staff.

All of this should serve as stark warning to Atos or any other company thinking of bidding for the contract to carry out the assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  A more poisoned chalice has rarely been offered by a government.  With 3 million more people now set to be forced to undergo these brutal and flawed tests, which ignore the opinions of GPs in favour of a short computer based assessment, the resistance to the process is likely to be fierce, and more importantly, to prove expensive.

Whether it will even be physically possible to find enough healthcare workers to carry out this testing procedure is in doubt.  Like much of the Welfare Reform Bill, it is the implementation of Iain Duncan’s Smith’s crazy schemes that will see their undoing.  The changes proposed to Housing Benefit and disability benefits, along with the roll out of the doomed Universal Credit, will be disastrous as the numerous contradictions in the bill emerge in reality.

This will be of little comfort to people whose lives are set to be devastated by the changes.  Just like coppers, just because this Bill is stupid it doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.  It will be the most vulnerable in society who will suffer as the system breaks down.  One thing’s for sure is that when the whole thing goes tits up the government will seek to blame anyone but themselves.  Whether it’s Atos or prison company G4S who take on the PIP contract, they are very likely to be hung out to dry as soon as it becomes politically convenient.

No matter what Iain Duncan Smith attempts to ram-raid his bill through parliament, opposition to his plans will not stop just because the bill becomes law.  In fact it is likely to intensify as more and more people are forced into a fight for their very survival.  Poverty pimps like Atos risk becoming collateral damage in what may yet prove to be the undoing of this government.

The heroic action by DPAC and UK Uncut which brought the West End of London to a standstill on Saturday shows a new militancy on behalf of campaigners.  Despite Atos and the CPS dropping the charges against the Nottingham protesters, a demo is being held anyway this Friday 3rd February.  In London protesters will be paying a lunchtime visit to Atos Headquarters in Triton Square in solidarity on the same day.

There will also be a vigil/protest against the Welfare Reform Bill on both January 31st and February 1st outside parliament meeting at Old Palace Yard from 1-3 pm.

The fight to save the Welfare State is just getting started.  The likes of Atos could do themselves a favour by getting out of the way.

G4S, disability testing and the DWP – what’s going on?

Are notorious security firm G4S being lined up to administer disability testing for the new Personal Independence Payment scheme?  Could they even be set to replace arch-bastards Atos?

With a history of bungling and brutality they certainly seem well qualified.  The news that a security company  are involved in disability testing trials on behalf of the DWP confirms what has long been suspected – that this government regard benefit claimants and disabled people as  a criminal fringe, to be harrassed, bullied and impoverished along with travellers, asylum seekers, homeless people and others on the economic margins of society.

Just how involved G4S are to become in policing of benefit claimants remains to be seen.   Let’s see what the DWP have to say …

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I request some information on the current trials being carried out
by G4S concerning the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

The information requested is:

What are the scope of these trials, how many people are expected to
partake, what are the time-frames and are any other companies or
organisations involved in delivering this trial?

Were these trails made available to competitive tender and if so
can the tender specification be published, or information given on
where it may be obtained?

If these trials were not available for competitive tender then can
the department release all correspondence with G4S (excluding
financial information and other contract details which may be
exempt from the FOI under competition rules)which relates to the
nature, methods and administration of the trials. This information
should include the nature of the trails being carried out eg what
is the level of medical qualification (if any) of those conducting
the assessments, the nature of the assessment including any formal
or informal documents relating to the testing procedure or
standardised questions, the methods of selection of candidates to
take part in the trials etc.

When will the study be complete? How will information be evaluated?
Where and when will these evaluations be made available to the

Are G4S involved in any other work relating to disability testing
or health testing for the DWP, whether regarding the new PIP system
or the current administration of eligibility tests for ESA?

Are there any formal plans to include G4S in the roll out of PIP,
are any agreements in place, or will the independent testing
element of the scheme be made available to competitive tender?

Finally I refer to a previous request made in June 2010 regarding
employment or other destinations of those denied ESA due to the
Atos testing procedure (your Ref: FoI 1370). In your response you
specified that “the Department is planning to commission a survey
which will look at the destinations of a sample of people who make
a claim for ESA. We would expect to publish the results of the
survey as they become available”.

Has this survey been carried out, and if so can the Department make
available it’s findings? If this is not the case then can the
Department confirm that there is still no information or statistics
available relating to how many people denied ESA are able to find
work and in what timescale?


johnny void