Monthly Archives: July 2012

Secret filming by GP about ATOS disability benefits ‘health-checks’


Demonstration near ATOS examination centre on Stoney St. in 2011

Demonstration near ATOS Healthcare examination centre on Stoney St. in 2011

We have previously covered the antics of private company ATOS Healthcare who carry out ‘health-checks’ on behalf of the Dept. of Work & Pensions. Job Centres are making daily decisions on huge numbers of people currently on disability benefits (Employment Support Allowance) with the aim of tranferring them on to Job Seekers Allowance if they are deemed fit enough, using a very contraversial computerised testing procedure owned by ATOS. Secret filming of ATOS ‘training’ by a GP has revealed that there is an implicit quota to pass recipients of benefits as fit for work. ATOS is paid a vast sum to carry out the tests.
Dr Steve Bick, a GP with 20 years’ experience, applied for a job as an assessor with Atos to carry out the work capability assessment (WCA) and secretly filmed his training for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme. […] The trainer tells trainee assessors: “If it’s more than I think 12% or 13%, you will be fed back ‘your rate is too high.'” When Bick questioned how the company could know in advance the precise proportion of people who needed to be put in this category, the trainer replied: “How do we know? I don’t know who set the criteria but that’s what we are being told.”

Notts activists have taken action against ATOS locally. The story of one part of this can be found in the excellent pamphlet: ‘Too much of this sort of thing’.

More about opposition to attacks on benefits and some history of ATOS’s testing software: End of the Social Wage? Radical responses to the Welfare Reform Bill

More about benefits on Notts SOS: https://nottssos.org.uk/tag/benefits/

Anti-workfare week of action hailed a success – Boycott Workfare summing up – July 2012


Report from Boycott Workfare: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1352

Protests against workfare took place on 7-14 July across the UK in a week of action called by the Boycott Workfare network to escalate the campaign against forced unpaid work.

Another hugely successful and diverse week of action across the UK, saw actions in over twenty locations across the UK, hundreds of people step up the pressure with phone calls and online action, and even an Early Day Motion tabled in Parliament.

Holland & Barrett pulled out of workfare the day before its stores were to see more protests across the UK. The week ended as it began with yet another big high street name wavering in its use of workfare. Savers have said that they will use the people currently doing workfare until their placements expire, but it will not be taking on any new workfare workers, until it has spoken to ministers about concerns that if people refuse to they will have their benefits stopped.

Let’s hope they don’t buy the government’s line that the placements on the Work Experience scheme are now voluntary. Sanctions have only been temporarily suspended. People are still told that they risk losing benefits if they do not go on the scheme, and people who refuse are threatened with a mandatory scheme instead. So we will be keeping an eye on Savers. They wouldn’t be the first organisation to publicly claim that they have pulled out of workfare, only to sneak it back in. Which takes us to Scope.

Sadly, Scope continues to use workfare and has been cited by the government to help it promote its Mandatory Work Activity Scheme. You may like to contact Scope about this and what appear to be its attempts to mislead people over the scheme and the Boycott Workfare campaign. We call on all those charities still involved to pull out. Workfare is failing and is hugely unpopular with the general public. By supporting the Work Programme you are linking your organisation to a deeply unpopular policy which undermines social justice.

It’s not just our campaign that is making workfare wobble. Every time figures are published, the Work Programme is exposed as failing. So much so that banks are now refusing to lend to workfare profiteers. It’s just too risky. A4E sub-contractor Eco Actif suddenly collapsed on Friday morning when it ran out of money.

Boycott Workfare thanks all those people and organisations who took part in and supported the week of action. To our new friends we say welcome. This campaign is what you make it, it’s your campaign, its achievements are your achievements.

Hundreds of people took action and thousands more now know about the campaign. So we’ve been inundated with people’s reports of where they have been sent to do workfare. Here are the latest organisations to be named and shamed through our whistle-blowing form: Currys, Bournemouth Borough Council, Marks & Spencer, Days Hotel, Ty Hafan charity shop, ISS Facilities, PKD Sporting Solutions Ltd, The Big Bargain Company, Butlins, Durham County Council, Grow Up

And one person managed to photograph a list from their job centre including: Stead & Simpson, Travis Perkins, Peacocks, Modern Classics, and Music4Children.

There’s more to do, this campaign is making a real difference, so take action with us to help it win!

This week, after the national week of action, activists in Nottingham handed out anti-workfare leaflets at local Job Centres. Two leafletting sessions were drowned out by the rain during the week of action!

Build the resistance – Notts TUC public meeting, 18 July, New Mechanics Institute, Nottingham.


Build the resistance is a public meeting called by Notts Trades Union Council to take place on Wednesday 18 July, New Mechanics Institute, Nottingham, 7-9pm. The purpose of the meeting is to plan for the 20th October 2-2012 march against austerity in London. Speakers include: Jim Aspinal, Save Kirkby Hospital; Andreas Bieler, Prof Political Economy, University of Nottingham; speaker from Parents Against the Five Term Year (PA5TY).

Flyer for meeting: http://www.nottstuc.org/2012/07/build-resistance-notts-tuc-public.html
Details of the October march can be found here: http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2012/05/a-national-demonstration-against-austerity-20-october-2012/

Other recent TUC news:
On 14th July, Rally for our future: defend public services, took place in Sheffield.
Transport from Nottingham was organised by the NUT. See link:
http://www.teachers.org.uk/files/july-14-flyer-sheffield-a5—8224.pdf

Holland & Barrett pull out of workfare – Boycott Workfare week of action 7th-14th July 2012


Before it even starts, the Boycott Workfare ‘Week of Action’ has had a major success: Holland & Barrett who have been using workfare on a huge scale (1100 placements a year amongst a workforce of 3500) have said that “the 60 people currently undertaking the work experience scheme will be the last to complete the eight week placement. After this time Holland & Barrett will not participate further in that scheme.”
More info:
H&B pull out – http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1265
Workfare facts – http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=663
Week of action 7th-14th July 2012: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1258
Companies involved with workfare: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1284. See also: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=16