Tag Archives: work capability assessment WCA

Meet Richard A. Montoni – The Five Million Dollar Maximus Boss Here To Fleece The UK’s Benefits System

No wonder the cunt’s smiling.

Richard A. Montoni – the boss of US firm Maximus who will soon be carrying out the despised assessments for sickness and disability benefits – received a salary and compensation package worth over a staggering five million dollars in 2013.

Maximus specialise in outsourced government contracts.  They already run Iain Duncan Smith’s disastrous Work Programme in some parts of the UK, along with a new scheme to harass people on sick leave by declaring them fit to return to work on the back of a short phone call.  As well as operating in the US, Canada and Australia, Maximus also have a welfare-to-work contract with the Saudi Arabian government – where women are segregated in the workplace and forbidden from carrying out many jobs.  From March next year they will take over from Atos running the Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) designed to strip benefits from sick or disabled people.  These crude computer based tests have caused horrifying suffering and led to homelessness, ill health and tragically even suicides as people with serious health conditions are found fit for work and left without enough money to eat or keep the heating on.

Montoni is not the only one benefiting from a huge salary at the expense of tax payers around the world.  Maximus have been criticised in the US after it was revealed their top excecutives received compensation packages of $41,808,585 between 2008 and 2012.  According to Forbes, Montoni himself received a salary and share packages worth $5,136,321 in 2013.  With that kind of money on the table is it any wonder they have the morals of sewer rats?

Montoni is a hands on kind of boss, recently appearing in a DWP press release congratulating himself at swindling the UK government into handing him millions of pounds of our money.  The WCA contract is expected to be worth around half a billion, a chunk of which will end up in his pocket.  Whilst the Government this week attempts to stir up hatred towards asylum seekers fleeing war zones, here they are handing a fortune to some American fucking Dallas   reject who doesn’t even live in the UK.  Hate this smug bastard, because it is the rich who are stealing the world, not the poor.

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Don’t Blame Us For The Suffering We Cause Say Atos, We’re Just Making Money

atos-bannerPoverty profiteers Atos have published a whining blogpost asking for people to blame the Government, not them, for the shambolic and cruel assessments for sickness and disability benefits.

The statement comes in advance of a day of action tomorrow which will see protests outside Atos assessment centres throughout the UK.  The company, who have made hundreds of millions out of welfare reform, yet still pay no fucking tax, have pleaded:  “Atos Healthcare has no control over welfare policy, the design of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), or the specific eligibility criteria for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).”

Not for the first time, the excuse I was only following orders has been replaced with but I was only trying to make money.  It is  truly a sign of the times that a company like Atos would even dare attempt this as a justification for their vile activities.  There was a time, when war profiteers and others who made money exploiting human misery, were the lowest of the low.  Now simply having lots of money in itself is seen as a moral virtue, no matter what you did to get it.

The Work Capability Assessment is making people’s health worse and has led to an increasing number of tragic suicides.  Atos cannot simply wash their hands of this by claiming they’re only in it for the money.  And neither can their so-called healthcare professionals who are all breaking the fundamental medical principle of ‘first do no harm’.

Atos are fully culpable for their actions and their pitiful whinging should be treated with the contempt it deserves.  Their bosses are lucky not to be facing trial along with Iain Duncan Smith and his murderous henchmen at the DWP.

Join the Day of Protest Against Atos tomorrow and show the bastards what you think.

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No More Deaths! Join The UK Wide Day Of Protest Against Atos On Wednesday February 19th

atos_kills_bannerSomeone recently commented that there was once a time when a government policy which led to spate of unintended deaths would have been halted to find out what the fuck was going on.

Yet the death toll linked to the horrific Atos run Work Capability Assessment grows ever higher with a spate of tragic suicides reported throughout December.  Life is cheap under neo-liberalism and neither the Tory Party, or Labour – who merely say they will replace Atos but the assessments will continue – are opposed to this terrible regime facing sick and disabled claimants.

Barely any of those found ‘fit for work’ by Atos have actually found jobs, despite Iain Duncan Smith’s magical Work Programme.  The number of successful appeals against decisions made to throw people off benefits remains sky high.  The stress and suffering caused by Atos is more than well documented by hundreds, if not thousands of people on the internet.

Atos once pretended to be one of those fake-fluffy IT firms like google or twitter but are now famous for cruel incompetence.  It has only been the hard work of sick and disabled claimants themselves that has made this happen.  The pressure must be kept up and all of those who want to live in a fair and humane society should join the fight to rid ourselves of these private sector parasites and bring the Work Capability Assessment to an immediate end.

A day of action against Atos is taking place this Wednesday 19th February.  Protests are taking place in towns and cities across the UK including Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester, Croydon, Hull, Birmingham, Truro, Portsmouth, Edinburgh, Wimbledon and many more.  To find a protest near you visit: http://ukrebellioncom.ipage.com/atosdemo/

In Central London protesters will gather outside Atos’ gleaming corporate headquarters in Triton Square near Euston from 10am, more details at: https://www.facebook.com/events/675411662480344/

Please share, blog and tweet details of all events.

And if you can’t make the nearest one to you then @Atos are on twitter where they’ve been unfairly neglected recently.

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Grant Shapps Is A Lying Bastard – Now That’s Official Too!

Grant ShappsInternet con-man and Tory Party chair Grant Shapps has become the second senior Tory to be accused of misusing benefit statistics by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA)  in just one month.

Iain Duncan Smith was recently subject to a humiliating rebuke from the UK statistics watchdog after lying about the impact of the benefit cap.  Now it’s the turn of former get rich quick scammer Grant Shapps after he claimed that almost one million people had come off sickness and disability benefits rather than undergo the notorious Work Capability Assessment carried out by IT firm Atos.

Shapps’ claim was a shabby attempt to smear those with serious illnesses or disabilities as fraudulent, by attempting to claim hundreds of thousands of people came off benefits rather than face an assessment.  As pointed out by the chair of the UKSA, Andrew Dilnot, the figures Shapps used actually largely related to the number of new claims dropped before an initial assessment between 2008-2013.

Assessments usually do not take place until several months after a person has made an initial claim for out of work sickness and disability benefits ( now called Employment Support Allowance or ESA).  This means large numbers of claimants with short term conditions, such as a broken leg, go back to work before the assessment is complete and therefore end their claims.

The truth is that the number of claims ended before assessment shows that most ESA claimants are honest, and end their claim for benefit when they no longer need it  – the very opposite of what Shapps was attempting to suggest.

According to the New Statesman between: “March 2011 and May 2012, just 19,700 (somewhat short of Shapps’s “nearly a million) abandoned their claims prior to a work capability assessment in the period to May 2012”

It’s hardly surprising that Grant Shapps – a man who made his money running a string of spam websites under a false name – should be caught fibbing.  But what is even more telling is why he is fibbing.

Against a backdrop of disabled people facing soaring hate crime, Shapps is trying to whip up the mob by misusing figures which he claims proves most sick and disabled claimants are fraudsters like him.  Claimants who may have the most severe disabilities, life threatening or terminal illnesses like cancer or serious and complex mental health conditions. Claimants who are already having their lives plunged into chaos by the other changes to benefits such as the bedroom tax and council tax benefit reform.

It is not enough for Shapps and his Government to strip away what little financial security many sick and disabled people have with heartless and needless cuts.  He also seems to want claimants falsely labelled as criminals in not just the gutter press but also in the streets.

Download the letter from the UKSA  (PDF)

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Man Jailed After Comments Made In Atos Assessment

atos-killsUPDATE 26/04/13  Steve Topley has been bailed, has pleaded guilty and is now expected to receive a community sentence.  Seems he wasn’t such a threat to the community after all.

A Nottingham man has now been held in custody for two weeks after he was accused of “threatening behaviour”* due to comments he allegedly made during his Atos benefits assessment.

Steve Topley is a 49 year old father with multiple serious health problems who was required to attend a Work Capability Assessment with the notorious IT firm Atos – the company responsible for stripping benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people.  During the process Mr Topley made some comments about someone not present at the assessment.

These comments led to Atos staff calling the police and Mr Topley was asked to attend Queens Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham.  When he refused to do so he was arrested.  At QMC he was de-arrested and received a mental health assessment but no reason was found to detain him under the mental health act.  He was then re-arrested and taken in handcuffs to Nottingham police station where he was later charged.

He has now been refused bail twice in closed courts which his family say they were not permitted to attend.  His sister Gina Topley, who says the family are being kept in the dark about the legal process, has said:

“My brother has not been given any opportunity to speak and give his side of the story to a judge and he was not offered an appropriate adult to accompany him when he was arrested.”

His family have not been allowed to visit him in prison and have raised concerns that his medication may not be being administered properly.  Mr Topley will face another appearance in a closed court tomorrow (Friday 26th April) and there are major fears that he will be remanded once again pending psychiatric reports.

His family and supporters have called a demonstration outside the court tomorrow calling for his immediate release.

Meet outside Nottingham Crown Court on Friday 26th April from 9.30-11.00am – please help spread the word.  For more details and the  latest news visit: http://freestevetopley.wordpress.com/

Thanks to 3monkeys in the comments for spotting this.

*Clarification:  Mr Topley was finally charged with making a ‘threat to kill’.  This can be a very serious charge which can result in a long sentence depending on other aggravating factors, however in this case it seems this was not the view of the Judge.  According to Mr Topley’s family:

“The Judge on the day appeared to accept that Steve was not a threat to anyone, however the ludicrous charge of ‘threatening to kill’ is still hanging over him. Police have not so far informed the alleged ‘victim’ of any plot against him, and cannot seem to find them, demonstrating how seriously they actually take this.”

One point worth making is that this incident happened in the middle of an Atos assessment which are notoriously stressful and frightening for claimants.  If he hadn’t been put through that, it is unlikely he would have said whatever he said, which it seems was not a very credible threat at least as far as the Judge was concerned.  When people who are marginalised are subject to this kind of shit then it can make people react irrationally or angrily and they end up doing things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.  The context these events take place in is often ignored by ‘professionals’, because to them it is all just a job and they can’t understand why people are not being reasonable.  The stark terror felt by some people facing courts, benefit assessments, arrests, bailiffs, prisons or even more seemingly benign institutions such as social services, Jobcentres and community mental health teams can often cause people to destroy themselves.  This can happen even if ‘professionals’ concerned do their jobs properly within the constrain of the system and no-one is really personally culpable.

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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 Vs A4e – Process Not Adequate Claims Emma Harrison

The poverty pimps are at each other’s throats if the recent comments made by Emma Harrison, Chief Executive of workfare scum A4e, are anything to go by.

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