PUBLIC fury is growing towards the French IT firm for their role in helping the Con-Dem government slash benefits.
MORE than HALF of people stripped of disability benefits after being ruled “fit for work” by Atos were left unemployed and without income, according to a Government study.
The Department for Work and Pensions, who hired the French IT firm to help them slash the benefits bill, have admitted finding out in a survey that 55 per cent of people who lost benefits in the crackdown had failed to find work.
Only 15 per cent were in jobs, with 30 per cent on other benefits.
The DWP claimed people left high and dry were given “tailored support” to find jobs.
But the extent of the hardship suffered by the Atos victims in the study will only add to the growing public fury about the firm and their methods.
Atos have assessed patients with terminal illnesses as “fit for work”. And thousands of victims of genuine, chronic conditions have complained of being humiliated by the company’s tests.
So far, Citizens Advice Scotland have received a shocking 24,000 complaints about Atos, who rake in £110million a year from the taxpayer for their controversial work.
The extent of unemployment among people denied benefits after Atos assessments was revealed by the DWP after a Freedom of Information request.
Investigators from the department spoke to 1100 claimants deemed fit for work and found that 55 per cent had no jobs or benefits.
Thirty per cent were getting jobseekers’ allowance or other benefits and just 15 per cent were in employment.
A later, follow-up survey of 590 of the claimants revealed that 43 per cent were still jobless and without income. Twenty-eight per cent were receiving benefits and 29 per cent were in work.
The snapshot surveys were taken between April and June 2009 and included in a report compiled for the DWP in 2011.
The figures were released to a member of the public under Freedom of Information law on September 10 this year.
The Record has been telling the stories of Scots who have fallen foul of Atos – and of former staff who have seen from the inside how the company operate.
Former Atos nurse Joyce Drummond told us how bosses forced her to “trick” disabled people out of their benefits.
Joyce’s medical training meant she knew claimants were unfit to work, but she was told to mark people as fit if they could write – or if they showed up for their interviews properly dressed.
Labour MP Michael Meacher has launched a campaign against Atos after one of his constituents who had been ruled fit for work died of a seizure.
He said lifelong epilepsy sufferer Colin Traynor’s health deteriorated under the stress of a £70-a-week cut to his benefit.
Meacher added: “Colin worried he would lose his home, not be able to pay his bills or even afford food. His health deteriorated, his seizures increased due to stress, and he lost a lot of weight.
“On April 3 this year he had a massive seizure that killed him.
“Colin is just one of many victims of this unfair system.
“Even though they deny it, I believe Atos have been given a target to get two-thirds of people off incapacity benefit.
“There are thousands of people being told wrongly that they are able to work. The Government have admitted that 11,000 people forced on to work-related activity after assessments have died before getting work.
“I am trying to gather all the cases I can, because this is a massive injustice. I am prepared to campaign for months or years until this is addressed properly.”
Atos have defended their role in the benefit crackdown. A spokeswoman said: “Our doctors, nurses and physiotherapists use their clinical knowledge and apply the Government’s policy and criteria to each assessment.
“We try to make the part of the process we are responsible for as comfortable as possible.”
Sometimes I wish my cancer had killed me
AFTER being left on the breadline by Atos, cancer survivor Margaret Monaghan often wishes her treatment had failed.
The mum-of-two was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago and now suffers terrible pain in her limbs as well as depression.
But after FOUR Atos assessments, she is still being refused disability living allowance, and is struggling to raise her young family on Job Seekers Allowance.
Margaret, 45, of Stevenston, Ayrshire, said: “I just feel completely ignored and I get really down about it.
“I’d love to work but I can’t get a job. My memory has been destroyed by my
illness and I have terrible pains all over my body.
“I had a mastectomy, the doctor says my nerves have been damaged by the chemotherapy and I have suffered terrible bouts of depression.
“I’ve been to four Atos assessments but they always find I’m fit for work, despite the fact no employer would give me a job in a million years.
“At my lowest points I truly wish that the cancer treatment hadn’t worked, because I feel the life I have been left with just isn’t worth living.
“I have an 11-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son and it breaks my heart because I can’t give them the things I would like to because I have so little money.
“It is clear to everyone that Atos have been brought in to get people off benefits to save money.
“They don’t care what your condition is. Something has to be done about it, not just for me, but for thousands of people out there in the same position.”