Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against ‘poverty pimps’ ATOS Origin beginning on Monday 9th May 2011, the same week that 1000s of people will march in London or take part in a ‘virtual’ online protest under the banner ‘The Hardest Hit’, against cuts to welfare benefits and allowances for disabled people. Calls have also been made for the media to stop demonising disabled claimants.
Update: Watch video on Guardian website (after annoying advert): Disabled people protest against Atos Origin.
Join Local action: Meet at 11am outside Office Angels (located in the city centre past the right lion. Next door to MAC and opposite The Square bar/club). Angel House, 12-13 Cheapside, City Centre, Nottingham, NG1 2HU. This is an action against treatment of temp workers that will continue at the ATOS Healthcare assessment centre on Stoney Street, Hockley.
ATOS Origin, through their division ATOS Healthcare have the UK contract from the Department of Work and Pensions to carry out ‘Work Capability Assessments’ which are being used to assess if you are entitled to Employment Support Allowance (which is replacing Incapacity Benefit for disabled and/or long-term ill claimants) using a Scoresheet and computerised form that is designed to make you pass as ‘fit’. If you get below a certain score you are left with applying for Jobseekers Allowance where it is known that pressure has been put on Job Centre’s to sanction more claimants off benefits altogether. 1.5 million people are due to be forced through these WCA tests, and the DWP has handed £300m to ATOS Healthcare (a renewal of their contact) to do them using so-called ‘health care professionals’ to do the dirty work. There are two ATOS Healthcare addresses in Nottingham. 40% of the massive number of appeals to ESA decisions (which are made by the Job Centre Plus ‘decision makers’ based on results of the test) have been upheld after putting them through months of stress and upset. Many others face the minefield of JSA. ATOS Origin have many other multi-million pound public centre contracts. ATOS Origin offices in Beeston were targetted by activists in February (Nottingham Indymedia report): http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/955.
Details: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/. Facebook event for the week of action: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121624627914913. Disabled People Against Cuts: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/05/national-week-of-action-against-atos-origin-begins-monday-9th-may/
The disproportionate effect of welfare reforms on women with disabilities has also been highlighted:http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/have-your-say/guest-column/anger-grows
More background on ATOS and ESA: