PARTIES hit out at ‘disgraceful’ work capability assessments carried out by Atos that have left many people feeling humiliated.
THE Daily Record’s exposure of the Atos scandal yesterday won cross-party praise at Holyrood.
SNP MSP Kevin Stewart waved a copy of the paper in parliament as he launched a stinging attack on the “humiliating” tests carried out by the French firm on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
And Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie described our coverage as “campaigning journalism at its best”.
But the Tories weren’t convinced, saying many of the Atos horror stories were “anecdotal”.
Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said:
“Nobody could fail to be moved by many of the stories that have been brought to the committee.
“But many of the stories we have heard are anecdotal. It is difficult to find a statistical or empirical set of figures to tell us exactly what these problems are.”
They were speaking during a debate on the work capability assessments that have sparked outrage across Scotland.
The Record has been telling the stories of Scots who have fallen foul of the tests – and of former staff who have seen from the inside how Atos operate.
Yesterday, we revealed more than half of the people stripped of disability benefits after
being ruled “fit for work” are left unemployed and without income.
After quoting at length from the Record’s report, Stewart said:
“This is absolutely disgraceful.”
“While I am no cheerleader for Atos, it is Westminster that is to blame for this.
“Although Atos are doing their bidding, they are doing so under the direction of the Department for Work and Pensions in London.
“The work capability assessment has been discredited so much by individuals who have gone through the process and by the overwhelming evidence it can no longer be seen as fit for purpose.
“Having to go through the system is stressful enough – it is sometimes frightening and daunting for claimants – and having to wait up to six weeks for communication from the DWP is unacceptable.
“When medical professionals are against a system which claims to be foolproof, surely it’s time for the UK Government to scrap it and create a system that works for disabled people?”
Baillie, the Dumbarton MSP, also blasted the UK Government.
“I am always reminded when discussing welfare reform that David Cameron promised that the cuts would fall on those with the broadest shoulders.
“I presumed that would mean his cabinet of millionaires – but it is not falling on their shoulders but on some of the most vulnerable in our society.”
Turning to the Record’s coverage, she added:
“Can I also take this opportunity to congratulate the Daily Record on their campaign, bringing to us real life stories that demonstrate the indignity of the process and the incompetence of Atos.
“This is in my view campaigning journalism at its best.”