By METRO WEB REPORTER – 31st August, 2012
Disabled rights activists have staged a demonstration outside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) against Paralympics sponsor Atos.
The multinational IT firm carries out the government’s controversial work capability assessments, which campaigners claim are ‘damaging and distressing’ and just a way of forcing people off benefits.
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and supporters of UK Uncut organised a protest at Atos’s London office on Friday afternoon, before staging a blockade of the DWP.
Some of the activists managed to gain access to the building, while two people in wheelchairs chained themselves to the doors and others held up a banner that read ‘Tax Avoidance = £25 billion, Welfare Cuts = £4.5 billion’.
There were some minor scuffles with police outside the Caxton House offices and one person was arrested.
DPAC later accused the police of reacting to the demonstration in an ‘entirely inappropriate manner’.
Lydia Foxton, a spokeswoman for DPAC, said the protests were intended to highlight the government’s attitude to disabled people, at a time when the eyes of the world are on the UK.
‘We have been targeting Atos, but they are just doing the government’s dirty work,’ she said.
‘Cutting welfare is devastating people’s lives and removing dignity, security and independence from thousands of sick and disabled people across the country.
‘At the same time, David Cameron and his government are using the Paralympics to show themselves to be champions of disabled people; it’s a disgrace.’
A spokeswoman for the DWP said the government had no influence on which companies were chosen as sponsors of the Paralympics, while Atos defended its involvement in the assessments.
‘We do not make decisions on people’s benefit entitlement or on welfare policy but we will continue to make sure the service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be,’ a spokeswoman for the French company said.