Press Release from Atos National Demo

By Dan Ashman for Occupy News Network

Next month people from across the country will gather nationally outside every ATOS centre to peacefully protest the inhumane treatment of people receiving employment support allowance and its predecessors incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance.

Spearheaded by disabled activists who have arguably had to bear the brunt of the cuts made by the government of millionaires. The poor treatment of our countries most vulnerable citizens by ATOS has been well documented.

December saw Tim Salter, a 53 year old blind man suffering with agoraphobia become the latest of a growing number of people to take their own lives following the governments changes to the benefits system.

This list includes at least 5 others. Lee Robinson, 39, of Crawley, Sussex, who was the first person in whose suicide could be attributed to the governments changes. Shaun Pilkington, 58, who was sent a letter saying he was to lose his ­Employment and Support ­Allowance, which he got after a long-term illness. Edward Jacques, 47, of Sneinton, Nottingham, who took a fatal overdose after his benefit payments were stopped. Richard ­Sanderson, 44, of ­Southfields, south-west London, stabbed himself in the heart.

Jacqueline Harris, a 53-year-old former nurse from Bristol, was found dead at her home, likely having taken an overdose of medications after she was pronounced fit for work in November 2012.

In July of last year brave whistle blower Greg Wood gave us a glimpse into the heartless target driven culture that was “unfair” and “skewed against the claimant” within ATOS.

Recently report the centre for welfare reform showed how informal targets set by ATOS had assessors under pressure to fail around 65% of claimants, with 1 in 6 of these decisions subsequently overturned.

Figures released by the government in July 2012 showed that 10600 people died within 6 weeks of stopping claiming ESA. Campaigners believe that the majority of the 10600 who ceased claiming and subsequently passed away were found fit to work by ATOS, and both the Department for Work and Pensions and ATOS are unable to produce any evidence to dispute these claims.

Ultimately campaigners are calling for fairer treatment of all benefit claimants, especially the disabled and chronically and terminally ill. Campaigner X said “It is unacceptable that the management of ATOS are pressuring assessors to fail so many claimants and deny them the benefits they are dependent on and entitled to rather than accurately asses the ability of claimants to work.”

Joe Salmon prospective Green party candidate for Headingley in the 2014 local elections said “Ultimately means tested benefits are something we should be moving away from and instead embrace the benefits of a negative income tax or ‘Citizens Income’ as set out in Green Party policy with a supplement for people with disabilities or special needs.Additional sources“