SCOTLAND’S leading Catholic tells Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith that human dignity is being trampled over in fitness to work tests.
SCOTLAND’S most senior Catholic has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to protest about Atos.
Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, told Iain Duncan Smith he has concerns over vulnerable people in society suffering due to an injustice.
French IT firm Atos have been under fire since they began carrying out work capability assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.
Thousands of people have hit out at their treatment at the hands of Atos assessors in the past few years.
The strongly-worded letter from Tartaglia calls on the Con-Dems to drop the current system.
The archbishop said:
“I have been made aware of cases of terminally ill people being summoned for assessments, people with learning difficulties being asked to present themselves for assessment not knowing what the process is all about.
“People being passed as fit for work and having their benefits stopped when they are clearly still seriously ill. Human dignity is being trampled upon and glaring errors are being made, reflected in the fact that 40 per cent of appeals are, I believe, currently successful.
“These circumstances, together with recent revelations by nurses and doctors who have spoken out against the tests they are being asked to perform on people, and which they, in conscience, can no longer collaborate with, must surely mean the time has come for a rethink.
“It is wrong for Atos to be profiting when sick and disabled people are suffering because of the harshness and bluntness of the work capability assessment.
“My concerns are shared by very many people of all parties and none, of all faiths and none.
“Surely the large number of successful appeals, the widespread concern among parliamentarians and the press, and the testimonies of health professionals who have spoken out against the indignity and injustice of the process must lead you to the conclusion that a rethink is needed.”
Labour MP Tom Greatrex said:
“This is an important, significant intervention by Archbishop Tartaglia – and a welcome one.
“This isn’t about party politics now, this is about a growing opinion from the archbishop, from doctors and nurses who have worked for the contractors, from parliamentarians who are all concerned that this test isn’t doing what it was supposed to do.
“It is causing a huge amount of anxiety. People are being badly treated by it and it should be about helping people who can work, into work.
“But the reality is it is hounding people who can’t work. Iain Duncan Smith would do well to listen to the archbishop’s call for compassion.”
Atos say just 15 per cent of appeals are overturned but the latest figures available show that from April to September 2012, the figure in Scotland was actually 46 per cent.
Labour leader Ed Miliband would not abolish the Atos tests but in a policy speech yesterday he pledged to reform them to get the system working for the needs of the unemployed.