Atos deaths: memorial day and protest in London
According to figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), between January and November 2011, 10,600 people died during, or within six weeks, of being put through the Atos Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
The WCA decides people’s entitlement to benefit based on a tick-box system that is unable to assess complex impairments and mental health issues.
And according to the British Medical Association (BMA), 40 per cent of assessments are overturned after they are appealed, with the success rate rising to 70 per cent for those who take up legal representation – proving it costly, inaccurate and ineffective.
The British Medical Association has demanded that the WCA should end “with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause unavoidable harm”
On 28 September, the disabled and non-disabled will gather to remember those who have died and those still suffering as a result of this current government’s austerity assault, which particularly affects disabled people.
10 Thousand Cuts and Counting is to be a memorial day for those who have had their lives devastated by the austerity programme.
For some of these people the assessment contributed directly to their deaths and the rest were made to endure the indignity of stressful and humiliating tests during the final weeks of their lives.
This 10,000 figure is the tip of an iceberg.
Perhaps most concerning is that the full extent of the problem is unknown. The fate of those who have been found fit for work, and therefore left the benefit system, is not recorded.
What is recorded is that:
Disabled people are paying back 9 times more than non-disabled people through cuts, and those with the highest support needs are paying back 19 times more.
Hate crimes against disabled people have risen alarmingly over recent years due to ‘benefit scrounger’ propaganda. Recorded crime figures doubled between 2008 – when records began – and 2011.
And this benefit scrounger propaganda is a cynical campaign. The government’s own statistics show that only 0.5 per cent of claimants of disability related benefits are acting fraudulently.
And for every pound in fraudulent benefit claimed, £17 of benefits goes unclaimed and is returned by the DWP to the government.
All this even before you mention the bedroom tax.
This gathering will demand an immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, something voted for by the British Medical Association, and a New Deal for sick and disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions as outlined in the WOW petition, reproduced below:
A Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick and disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act.
An immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association.
Consultation between the Department of Health to improve support into work for sick and disabled people, and an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits.
An independent, committee-based inquiry into welfare reform, covering but not limited to:
(1) Care home admission rises, daycare centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, universal mental health treatments, Remploy closures;
(2) DWP media links, the ATOS contract, IT implementation of Universal Credit;
(3) Human rights abuses against disabled people, excess claimant deaths and the disregard of medical evidence in decision making by ATOS, DWP and the Tribunal Service.
This government is reducing the Welfare State in a way which creates even more economic and social inequality and does not save the country money – this cannot be allowed to continue.
On 28 September we will remember those who have died and those living who are having their independence and dignity challenged as a result of austerity, and the event will be led by disability activists; Occupy activists; David Ison – the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral; Michael Meacher MP and other representatives.
A delegation from the gathering will present The Downing Street Demand to the Prime Minister, in support of the demands set out in the WOW petition, which has to date been signed by 52,000 people.
Come and join us on 28 September at 12 noon – probably at Parliament Square.
Please wear white clothing as a symbol of remembrance.
If this is not possible, a white scarf or other small item would be useful.
Please also bring a white flower if you would like to lay one in remembrance.
For more information click here.