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Benefits and Work Newsletter: Revealed, Truth About Atos Death Threats

April 30, 2014 12 comments

ESA NEWS
Benefits and Work has obtained documents via the Freedom of Information Act that may undermine claims by Atos that its staff were the subject of nearly two thousand episodes of assault or abuse, including death threats, by claimants in 2013 alone. Atos used the claim to justify wanting to exit early from the contract to carry out work capability assessments (WCAs).

This was, by any standards, a very serious accusation.

Characterising thousands of sick and disabled claimants as violent thugs that Atos could no longer expose its staff to is likely to have increased the level of prejudice against benefits claimants. It may even have contributed to a rise in the number of violent hate-crimes committed against disabled people.

Benefits and Work, however, has now obtained a month-by-month breakdown of all the incidents of violence and abuse reported by Atos to the DWP throughout the whole of 2013. It includes:

Staff assaulted. 5 times in the whole year.

Threat made to staff ‐ direct or implied. 110 times in the whole year.

Security called/police called. 215 times in the whole year.

Readers can decide for themselves whether Atos’ claims are justified by reading the whole year’s figures.

In other ESA news, labour has pledged to overhaul the work capability assessment. But without definite information about what is going to change, it’s a pledge that will probably be greeted with a certain amount of scepticism, at least by our readers.

Plus, yet another case of a dying man being found capable of work – in this case whilst he was waiting for a heart transplant.

Finally, we have now heard from three current ESA claimants who have been asked to attend an Atos medical in spite of the decision by the DWP to suspend all repeat referrals to Atos. The numbers seem too small to suggest that the suspension policy has ended already, but we’d be interested to hear from anyone else who has recently been invited to an Atos medical even though their ESA review date was February 2014 or later.

PIP NEWS
Anyone who imagines that Atos is hurting financially following the decision to try to make them produce better quality WCA reports and to suspend referring ESA claimants for reassessment will be in for a disappointment.

Atos first quarter profits are up 1.6% in the UK where “the ramp-up of the PIP contract offset the revenue decrease on WCA.” In other words, what they lost on the WCA roundabout they made up for on the PIP swings.

But while Atos may be very content with the way PIP is panning out, Emma Cross a Macmillan Cancer Support benefits adviser calls it “Heartbreaking, truly astonishing, I’ve never seen anything like this.” She says delays in PIP leave the sick utterly destitute.

“Does anyone know how many people are struggling?”, she asks.

Meanwhile, Dr Stephen Duckworth, the head of Capita’s PIP unit has told the press that disabled people are trapped in an assessment nightmare because of all the tests they have to undergo in relation to benefits. He believes that this has dangerous impacts on their health and personal lives and also increases the levels of prejudice against them.

All of which would be a great deal more convincing if Dr Duckworth didn’t work for the company which is busy selling dodgy lie detector software for local authorities to use on sick and disabled housing benefit claimants.

OTHER BENEFITS NEWS
The Mail on Sunday tried its best to discredit food banks on Easter Sunday. Its reporters lied about being unemployed with families in desperate need of help to con CAB and Trussell Trust staff into helping them.

The vicious stunt backfired spectacularly, however, when thousands of disgusted members of the public made online donations to the Trussell Trust, specifically stating that it was the Mail’s article that prompted their donation.

Only around 250 people had donated to the Trust on their Just Giving page since late January, giving under £3,000. Following the Mail’s ugly stunt, there have now been almost 5,000 donors handing over a total of more than £61,000. The Trussell Trust are delighted, the Mail on Sunday probably not so much.

Others in the media are no longer getting such an easy ride with their claimant hating agenda either.

Channel 4’s Benefits Street is struggling to find a street anywhere in Britain that will let them film a sequel. A disgruntled director claims that someone is getting to potential participants and ‘putting the fear of God into them’.

And finally, the DWP’s attempts to set the internet alight with £31,000 of our money spent on nine Youtube videos has failed as spectacularly as all IDS’ other enterprises. A video on home swapping for bedroom tax victims has, for example, had just 84 views.

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September 13, 2012 Leave a comment
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