Disability and anti-cuts groups have vowed to shut down the headquarters of controversial Paralympic sponsors Atos in protest against its involvement in the games.
UK Uncut and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are set to stage the Closing Atos Ceremony at 12.45pm on Friday August 31 – the second day of the Paralympics.
Atos has been fiercely criticised over its handling of the Department for Work and Pensions £100 million-a-year contract to assess people claiming incapacity benefit.
Campaigners said that 1,100 claimants died last year while under compulsory work-related activity for benefit and a number of those found “fit for work” and stripped of their benefits have committed or attempted suicide.
The British Medical Association, disabled groups and MPs have all demanded the work capability assessments be scrapped immediately.
An early day motion tabled by John McDonnell and signed by 83 MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn and Ian Lavery, deplored the fact that “thousands of sick and disabled constituents are experiencing immense hardship after being deprived of benefits following a work capability assessment carried out by Atos Healthcare.”
Earlier this month the High Court granted permission for two disabled people to bring a claim for judicial review against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, challenging the operation of the assessments.
UK Uncut and DPAC have pledged to engage in direct action, creative protests and promised “plenty of surprises.”
The groups stress they are not opposed to the Paralympics but Atos’s “hypocritical” involvement.
DPAC spokesman Paddy Murphy said: “Atos receives hundreds of millions of pounds while many disabled people are being forced to live in abject poverty because of their decisions.
“By sponsoring the Paralympics, Atos is trying to give the impression of supporting disabled people. Don’t be fooled. This is just another opportunity for it to cash in.”
And UK Uncut activist Kat Templeton said: “Atos are spearheading the government’s attacks on welfare.
“This is about making ordinary people pay for a crisis caused by the bankers. It’s about making disabled people pay, instead of super-rich tax dodgers who cost us over £25 billion every year.”