‘Disabled people face persecution’ ~ Letters to the Guardian ~ Sunday 5th August 2012

Letters to The Guardian

Letters: ‘Disabled people face persecution’ 

guardian.co.uk

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?

Gabriel Parlour
Stroud, Gloucestershire

 

• 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.

Phil Cosgrove
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.

Joseph Marshall
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.

Ann Kinsler
Winchester, Hampshire 

• 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.

Prisca Furlong
Louth, Lincolnshire 

• 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.

Stephen Hill
Taxpayers against Poverty

The Guardian

Comments
  • BlackDragon August 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    There needs to be some sort of campaign or mass advertising to tell people having to attend these tests to demand that they are recorded. This has to be stopped. The government has no interest in allowing the public to know their rights, so it needs to come from somewhere else.

  • Wendy wilson August 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Could someone please!! come up with the exact figure this is costing the tax payer As I do not think the message is getting through I do not think this will be won on a humanitarian perspective but I do think its short termism and not cost effective in the long run. I think that we need to get used to the fact that people have been hoodwinked into believing there is real fraud going on and sadly Us on the front line know that simply isnt so ..What we also know isnt so is the fact that As carers we are truly struggling ….battling everything from nappy provision to housing to occupational therapists chucking you off the books to school transprt illegally coming up with excuses not to take your disabled children……….I am in the position at the moment of having one child taken because I won at tribunal and the other child………..who goes to the same school being left for me to take REASONABLE!! A WORD USED ONCE IN OLDEN TIMES WHEN PEOPLE WERE!

  • kasbah August 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    BlackDragon
    There needs to be some sort of campaign or mass advertising to tell people having to attend these tests to demand that they are recorded. This has to be stopped. The government has no interest in allowing the public to know their rights, so it needs to come from somewhere else.

    Without having money to do an ad campaign we could consider resorting to countrywide small scale action: eg if every GP surgery had a couple of posters up about this, or leaflets, the message would get through to a lot of people.

    Civil disobedience is another route-sticking up posters near Job Centres etc.

  • jeffery davies August 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    perhaps they want my measly 33.20 back they can go a long way on that jeff3

  • steve davies August 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Work on the yellow belly Liberals to cross floor and join Labour and prompt a further election BUT Labour is not the solution. If UKIP have any social policy , what is it ?

  • Christina Klein-Bissett August 6, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    The media are still mostly ignoring our case. We all have to write in, scream, shout and even then its very difficult to get trough to the “PUBLIC”. My husband collected a great photo story about us…..no one wants to publish it. Its” much more important to “publicize the image of the super “disabled Olympic Hero” . No one wants to read or hear our stories, no matter how heroic we have to be to just get trough 24 hours. I am a super hero if I make it into the shower. But no one cares about that. Quite the opposite, if I can make it in to my shower I am FIT FOR WORK !!!!!

  • debdahvibez August 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    we are witnessing the corporate takeover of Britain = a nation that will be owned & run by foreign corp’s & their puppet politicians – all are under dictates of global-bankers who are dividing up our planet like a ‘cake’ between themselves.

    All of the policies on Benefits & cuts in jobs for public services etc will have a negative impact on our economy – less money in the pockets of every UK citizen will see a rapidly increased decline in decent-paid work.

    Anyone can see, the ‘austerity-measures’ keep the rich rich & the poor even poorer – they are not at all designed to bring Britain to its feet, they are designed to provide a debt-enslaved workforce at the feet of an economic-elite – yes; a New World Order, where Governments are chosen by Bankers & the average worker has no rights, no healthcare, no support in times of disability & sickness, no rights to a minimum wage & if you’re under 25, no rights to Housing Benefit (the under 25’s earn the LOWEST income & are MOST dependent on HB).

    Britain is to become a ‘3rd world’ country – that much is clear – for every £1 the UK workforce earns, less than 40p remains in this country, it’s like watching water drain from a bath – those afloat now will soon be hitting rock-bottom, and by then it will be too late – do not forget the legislation for privately-owned & run Police-forces is already waiting in the wings…

  • kasbah August 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I agree with what you say debdahvibez. Not only is this unrestrained Capitalism corrupt and immoral, it runs counter to regeneration theories and practice. Taking away minimum wage, cutting benefits, exploiting people on Workfare all run down the economy, leading to deprived people, deprived communities and a huge pooling of resources for the richest
    1%, who then bank the money and leave it there- draining the economy and avoiding tax.

    In Wales recently there were initiaives to encourage people to apply for benefits they are entitled to, because this money helps individuals, families and the local economy. It’s simple isn’t it. The UK Gov is hellbent on destroying the good these projects do.

    however, the perpetrators are shortsighted. people DO have a breaking point. it is incomprehensible that any gov would be willing to push people towards the despair that leads to public rage and action, but that is exactly what they are doing and they will suffer the consequences.

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