Letters: ‘Disabled people face persecution’
Atos was at the centre of Panorama’s ‘Disabled or Faking It?’ programme last this week (Minister accused of trying to censor disabled advice, 1 August).
It is a French corporation in receipt of tens of millions of pounds from the government to assess people with disabilities and is possibly in line to get a further contract worth £1bn to carry out the new personal independence payment assessments.
It was clear from the programme that assessors are under pressure to declare fit for work those who are patently unfit. I am currently appealing such a finding on behalf of my own son who has a learning difficulty, and I can assure you that the process is humiliating and dehumanising. What is happening to those with disabilities is persecution.
My question is this: are the general public going to get behind the defence of those with disabilities and not just leave it to those who are affected?
• Your report on the Ministry of Justice’s video advising the public how to appeal against decisions made by the Department for Work and Pensions illustrates once again the contempt this government has for the judicial process. Why should the DWP be involved in videos advising those appealing against decisions made by it and Atos?
The government is also abolishing the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, the watchdog that ensures that tribunals in the court service deliver justice. This organisation has highlighted the increase in appeals against the DWP and the percentage lost by the department and Atos.
The government might have tolerated Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony but any vestige of a welfare state will not be tolerated in the future.
Look out for proposals for the low-paid to pay to take cases to employment tribunals when they are unfairly dismissed and have no income. By then the opening ceremony will be a distant memory.
Public and Commercial Services Union, Ministry of Justice
• The employment minister, Chris Grayling, has told the Ministry of Justice that “the work capability assessment is not a medical examination”.
Oddly, however, I have in front of me a letter from Atos Healthcare, headed “Medical services provided on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions”, informing me of an appointment it arranged for me last month at Hastings medical examination centre.
Mr Grayling goes on to say: “If the word medical must be used we’d be OK with medical assessment, but would prefer something like ‘an assessment of your capability for work’.”
We have a government minister who repudiates wording included in letters sent out on behalf of his own department. He seems to be in the grip of incoherence.
Is the poor man fit for his job? Perhaps it is time he went for a sort-of-a-medical not-an-examination assessment thingy.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
• Since Atos has had such success in getting people with weak hearts and one leg back into work, perhaps it could now be employed to recoup the unpaid taxes of those who stash away their money in trust funds and offshore accounts.
• Government and Atos targets for reducing the number of people claiming sickness benefits have at last been exposed.
People who have been at the ruthless and inhumane mercy of this system for years now feel there may be a light at the end of the tunnel and that demands will be made for the system to be abolished.
In order to speed up the process I would advise all claimants undergoing the work capability assessment to demand their assessment is recorded on CD, which is their right.
If they fail the Atos assessment they can then present the audio recording to the decision-maker and ask for a reconsideration, pointing out the manipulations and evasions of points of fact that are designed to fit the poor victim into the fail box.
• Forget Higgs boson – politicians have discovered the secrets of alchemy. With the stroke of a pen, they can turn taxes into gold, at least for the small coterie of companies providing most of our public services (Atos wins £400m of contracts to run disability benefits test, 3 August).
When the financial crisis hit, it was a truism that “cash was king”. Businesses that generated consistent revenues would prosper whether the banks were lending or not. Public service contracts are ideal targets: services can be provided with reduced labour inputs, on the back of goodwill and buildings and equipment paid for by taxpayers.
Poor service, questionable value for money and inhumane treatment of citizens are no bar to government rewarding these companies with more contracts. This government and the last have created an elite of cash-rich businesses with an unlimited commercial advantage to expand their businesses globally using UK taxpayers’ money – the “bank of me and you” that gets no return in cash or kind.
These contracts are the flagship of the new vampire economy.
MPs’ expenses, phone-hacking, offshore hoarding, banks fixing Libor and deliberately mis-selling payment protection insurance landowners and landlords holding young people to ransom with speculative land (and thus house) prices and rents – all are following government’s signal that its citizens are just prey for the market.
Taxpayers against Poverty