Atos scandal: Benefits bosses admit over half of people ruled fit to work ended up destitute

By  1 Comment 26 Sep 2012 07:38

PUBLIC fury is growing towards the French IT firm for their role in helping the Con-Dem government slash benefits.

Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

 

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. 

Joyce has not worked since the stress of her job at Atos
Joyce has not worked since the stress of her job at Atos

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 

Margaret’s story    

Margaret Monaghan
Margaret Monaghan

  

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.”

The Scottish Daily Record

Comments
  • jeffery davies September 26, 2012 at 10:46 am

    and that it in a nutshell they dont want to pay out only to their mates who do and will award themselves big bonuses for looking after the workshy and shody disabled and sick and that is the tory and labour way started by blair who has set unum and its people into all walks of upper life which inflicts their way on us so no money and sod you is their way and do the mps do anything about us nah they still got their hands in the till and want a piecefull life sod us jeff3

  • papasmurf September 26, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Can anyone find the DWP report and link it please because I can’t find it anywhere on the DWP website.

  • Royston September 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Its criminal that this government can cause this to happen.We have millionares in power who murder people in other countries with phoney terrorist war’s.Who say there is no money and yet bail the banks out continuously.They also find billion’s of pounds for arm’s to fight the war’s with.As far as i’m concerned we are now ruled by evil Nazi’s.
    Eventually when people realize in uk like Spain that they are being shafted…we will all stand up and these millionare leaders will run for their live’s.

  • steve71 September 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I was born with severe deformities to my feet which in turn causes severe pain and problems walking as I have grown older things have got worse severe pain is now excruciating pain that I try to control with very strong pain killers, I now have arthritis in my lower spine because of the gait of my walk, I have been advised by my doctor to exercise the muscles in my lower back to support the affected area, as you may expect I suffer from severe depression and anxiety and am on anti depressants, because of this and the fact I can write and lift my left arm and walk with support 200m I have been deemed fit for work! If I am then fair enough, I received a letter today 26 sept saying my esa has been stopped since 21 sept, I am confused where do I go who do I talk to, could I now get done for pretending to be ill because I believe that is what they are saying, I am a liar. Help .

  • Joanna Terry September 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Since when has a physiotherapist been a fully trained up medical practitioner, since when has a maternity nurse gained knowledge in the intricacies of MS , neruopathology, cancer and dozens of other specialist disorders. They are a joke but I’m not laughing. These people deliberately refuse to submit evidence that would find claimants unfit and then at appeal say they hadn’t received it. My anger is beyond belief and if I were anywhere near fitter than what I am I would camp outside parliament on a daily basis, holding a megaphone so that these B***’s could not go la-la I can’t hear you.

  • Dave Rowlands September 26, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    When any politician allows changes to be made to the “test” because not enough people are being found fit for work then the system is not geared to finding the “work shy”, ALL politicians only have one goal and that is to dismantle the NHS, turn the welfare system into a profit making insurance and fuck those that can’t afford to pay for it.

  • jed goodright September 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    You are right Dave – aren’t they supposed to be ‘helping’ us into work as and when appropriate?
    If this is ‘help’ then I live on the moon
    in reality this is fascism – they are culling the population – where is the UN and the USA? why haven’t they bombed this country?

    why can’t you post on sue marsh site anymore – i’ve posted there loads of times but now i’m illegal????????????who needs enemies with friends like her?

    • jefflph September 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      she through in the towle for some reason, jeff .

  • Craig September 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I’ve been through assessments, appeals and finally two different tribunals for DLA and to be put into the Support Group of ESA (meaning I absolutely cannot work). Only today have I finally been awarded the status I should have had 2 years ago. I cannot walk, I am permanently dizzy, often I cannot read or write, or even watch TV. And yet I was put in the Work Related Activity group! I’m basically housebound, and I suffer massively with clinical depression and Meniere’s disease. How this uncaring, elitist, idiot government thinks it’s going to get back into power at the next election is beyond me. I just hope that everyone who has been hit by these plonkers actively use their vote to dump the bastards when the time comes. It’s truly shameful. Tax cuts for the rich. No sanctions on banks. And squeeze the peasants for every penny. Shameful.

  • doreen b September 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    This atos should be closed down and the goverment should open there eyes and see how they are treating the sick and disabled people they dont have to worry they get all there expenses paid for them and as usual take from the poor to feed the rich all the goverments are the same lining there own pockets they are rich school boys who havent a clue about the real world they should be ashamed but they laugh in the faces of those with diabilities and sickness atos are a joke and as for my mp a joke too didnt want to know its discusting if they had there way they would give us all an injection to get rid of us so where are the human rights now

  • Humanity2012 September 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Eugenics and Euthanasia Con Dem UK 2012

    The Evidence is there before Peoples Eyes

    People Need to Wake Up and Say Enough is Enough Reverse these Policies
    and Compensate the Poor and Vulnerable

    • jefflph September 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      harmen was on about this last saterday about births she was saying use 3 to make a baby then there would be no problems due to disabity harrett harmen the NU LABOUR PARTY.
      JEFF

  • Findlow September 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/26/labour-review-sickness-benefits-assessment

    ” Labour will on Thursday call for a “fast and fundamental” review of the controversial Work Capability Assessment, the test that determines who is eligible for sickness benefits, acknowledging that the policy it introduced while in government is not working.”

  • Findlow September 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Channel 4 news at 7PM tonight will lead on the WCA scandal and the death of Colin Traynor:

    “Exclusive: Was work capability assessment to blame for man’s death?
    Tonight we have an exclusive interview with the family of Colin Traynor. Colin had epilepsy and he struggled to hold down a job because of his illness. Even Remploy, the specialist disability employer, couldn’t find him work so he lived on incapacity benefit, as it used to be known.

    Just before Christmas he was called to a work capability assessment under the government’s benefit reforms. He told his parents that he had struggled to convey his difficulties to the assessor at the private contractor Atos, who had seemed to him to only want ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. He was found fit for work and his benefit was stopped. According to his mother Colin became very stressed. The family started an appeal but within months Colin had a grand mal seizure and died.”

  • jed goodright September 26, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Liam Byrne to lead debate on WCA – he’s a fascist cunt who has never had a proper job in his life – is this labour’s defining moment – I doubt it – Miliband is an absolute wanker

    • Findlow September 26, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      Well maybe even Liam Byrne has been forced to change his mind in the face of all the evidence, all the WCA-related deaths and misery. Surely we have to have some hope.

      “A discussion paper which will be released by the shadow work and pensions team on Thursday states: “We believe that this government is forcing disabled people to pay for its economic mistakes.” The party has calculated that cuts to social care and disability benefits will total £8.6bn over the course of this parliament.

      “As a consequence of government decisions, disabled people are carrying a heavier load than bankers in bring down this debt. In the final year of this parliament, cuts to disability benefits will be 40% more than the amount taken off banks.”

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/26/labour-review-sickness-benefits-assessment

  • JANET September 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    i spoke to a friend today who is in desperation her benefits have been cut down to jobseekers, she has to run a household on that amount, thing is she cant get work she is unemployable, and i am very worried for her health and life, she came to a club once a week for pensionairs/vulnerable people ,she cannot even attend that ,

  • Nyxx September 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Here is my story:
    Several years ago I was a soldier in the army, I served one tour of duty before moving on in my life, shortly after I was in a motorcycle accident that damaged my spine, completely crushing one disc and fusing another, the surgery to repair this wasnt done quite right I suppose. At first the pain wasnt too bad really, the rest of my body was healthy so I managed, working several jobs along the way until three years ago when I took a spill down some stairs that I didnt realise were covered in ice, this and my waning health meant that I was put into constant pain from my spine.
    Since then I have been given dyhydrocodine as a regular painkiller and pregabalin as well, in addition to all of this I have become chronically insomniac due to the pain and rarely sleep even with the zolpidem my doctor has prescribed me.
    I have been to two ATOS assessments so far and both times been found fit for work even though I can barely walk on my best day, each time the ‘expert assessor’ placated me while demanding yes or no answers, one even feigned actual sympathy for my condition, didnt mean I didnt get the letter a day or two later saying my benefits have been cut.

    This system badly needs to be fixed, a French IT company is no more fit to decide if people live or die than I am fit to work in one of Gordon Ramseys resturants as the head chef.

  • jed goodright September 27, 2012 at 3:30 am

    The DWP response to this is a complete fabrication. Atos and the WCA DO NOT include previous medical history in their assessment. IT IS A LIE

  • Mark Carnall November 30, 2012 at 2:10 am

    I have had M.E. since 1997 After 3 years or so the chances of recovery are vanishingly small so I am probably stuck with it. Over the years I have fought and won 3 appeals two pf which went to tribunal. Each time I was sent a dodgy dossier based on what I had said at the assessment that was literally 1/2 an inch thick. Each time I found the stress and poverty this caused, made my condition much worse. How much does this cost the government, especially as 38% of claiments are found unfit for work as they have always said? Is this a job creation scheme for the civil service and Athos?

  • John Bursby April 1, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    At the beginning of 2013 I applied for Dependent’s Allowance. Aged in my seventies I have had an Aortic Valve replacement (open heart surgery). Have also lost an eye following a stroke, suffer from empyhsema (COPD), Diabetis (type 2) and am currently undergoing treatment for skin cancer. My Mobility is severely restricted. When the CAB completed my forms they felt I qualified in every respect,a theory fully supported by my GP. After several months of prevarication by the DWP I was sent for an assessment by ATOS. Upon entering the office the doctor sneered at my walking frame and out of the blue said “Mobility is not an issue”. The whole examination was a total farce, since he simply wanted me to go over my medical history – which is fully documented of course. I was not surprised when my application and appeal were were declined on the strength of ATOS saying I did not qualify for an allowance. Whilst awaiting a tribunal the whole experience has left me wondering whether ATOS are actively encouraged (perhaps even paid) to submit misleading reports so the government doesn’t have to pay out on genuine cases.

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