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 And One Day The ‘Sheep’ Said To The Atos Wolves “Enough Is Enough, We Will Not Take This Anymore!”.

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PostSubject: And One Day The ‘Sheep’ Said To The Atos Wolves “Enough Is Enough, We Will Not Take This Anymore!”.   Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:08 pm

And One Day The ‘Sheep’ Said To The Atos Wolves “Enough Is Enough, We Will Not Take This Anymore!”.

Christos Palmer from Cardiff, a man with both physical and mental disabilities, and who was denied benefits following an ATOS ‘medical’ assessment, resorted to camping in front of his local ATOS office on hunger strike to help highlight the failings of the assessment to the public.

I have no wish to make light of his efforts, they reveal a determination of spirit greatly to be admired, but I wonder what is being made of this as far as ATOS is concerned? If they cared about those many disabled being unfairly rejected by their horribly flawed testing and being left to the tender mercies of an uncaring system or whether they saw them as sheep ready to be sheered. If the former were true than Christos and so many others would not find themselves struggling to survive and would not feel as if their only option was to take action to highlight the failing of the system to a public not always willing to listen.

What’s that you say, the system doesn’t really let people down? Well, let’s examine the system. Initially, the disability benefit Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was set up as an acknowledgement by the Government of the day that disabled came from a position of financial disadvantage. That is to say, that some were working, but may need a means to help them to work, by giving a measured allowance that might get them an adapted vehicle, pay for care, special equipment etc. For those not able to work, it helped to lift them out of a life of poverty and suffering. It was an award that, in the words of Government, was given regardless of whether the recipient worked or not. It was a milestone that the Government should be proud of. Ironically, given the current cuts to welfare benefits being dished out by the coalition, it was a Conservative Government which introduced DLA. I believe a civilization can be measured by how they treat their most vulnerable citizens.

This disability allowance is essential for those disadvantaged from birth, through accident, or through life changing illness. Testing for this allowance was rigorous in requiring medical confirmation via the applicant’s GP and other medical specialist.

This all sounds abundantly fair to me, it was not enough to pay for someone and their friends to take a wine tasting tour in Australia on a whim, but it kept the wolf from the door. The coalition, however, has taken the door away and given the wolf a brand new, very sharp carving knife.

When ATOS were assessing the unemployed who were on incapacity benefit (not the same thing as disability living allowance), they were looking at those who have a condition not considered to be permanent, and though fraud was considered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to be less than 1%, they were determined to cut welfare by 20%. Evidently, this was a bold statement whose sub text was: we don’t care, we are determined to spread suffering.

It is therefore quite natural that a Government so bloody minded as to think this way, would hire a wolf (ATOS) and take the door away, urging the wolf to enjoy it’s meal and be sure to clean the plate.

So what happens to a disabled person in assessment by ATOS? Let me tell you about my friend Shawn. He was a cabinet maker until a few years ago when his back failed him. He has a wife and children, not because of selfishness, they were born in the years when he could work. Shawn does the food shopping by internet because he physically is unable to shop in person. His legs are wasted as well as his back being unable to support him. The ATOS assessor read the medical evidence and asked him pertinent questions, after which the assessor made up a work of fiction in order to deny benefits. The assessor did not inspect Shawn’s legs, yet reported that he had examined him and found no evidence of muscle wasting. The Internet food shopping translated in the report to: Suffers no fatigue while out food shopping, and spends his time on the Internet.

While you are absorbing this example of ATOS wolvishness, let me tell you what happens when ATOS issue their report to the DWP. If in a small minority of cases they (DWP) decide you are unfit for work based upon Atos’s report, you are recommended for the replacement for Incapacity Benefit, the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and placed within a group called the Support Group where you are not required to partake in work related activity such as the Work Programme or look for work, unless you choose to.

Otherwise you are put into a work related activity group (still part of ESA), where you are considered not yet ready for work, but may be capable of some form of work in the future. If you are considered fit for work (a polite way of saying malingering), you will need to start claiming job seeker’s allowance. If you want to appeal against their decision, taken by a DWP decision maker and largely based upon the Work Capability Assessment, you could be waiting up to a year or even longer in a minority of cases for your case to be heard by a tribunal. A large percentage of cases where a claimant has appealed against a decision to stop their benefit (or award a level of benefit the claimant is not happy with) are overturned in favour of the claimant, exposing the ATOS assessment as flawed. And yet in most if not all cases where an assessment by Atos is deemed to be poor or inaccurate by a tribunal they are not penalised for those failings. These meager benefits hang like a carrot for those who refuse to live without food or shelter and a modicum of dignity. So it is that people like Christos find themselves in acts of desperation, unreported by the red tops as it does not suit their agenda.

Going back to that other disability benefit, Disability Living Allowance.

Disability campaigners claim that some disabled people who have used money received from Disability Allowance in order to buy an adapted car so that they can get out to work and live an independent lifestyle, could lose that car when DLA is replaced with a new benefit, the Personal Independence Payment, or be unable to maintain or replace it later. Stuck there at home without transport, they may lose the job that was keeping them going and symbolising their independence. Condemned to no job, and no benefits to help in finding and maintaining a job, disabled people are forced to endure a soulless Government, whose blindness in recognising the importance of welfare benefits in helping a disabled person find work, and stay in work, is absolutely staggering. And yes,.. it is the taxpayer who are having to pick up the bill for these government failings when disabled people then have to claim out of work benefits.

Can I remind you why the most vulnerable are being so punished? It is because of greed. Scapegoating the vulnerable so that those responsible for much of the UK’s economic troubles, the bankers, can sit above responsibility, and so that politicians can continue to soak up huge expenses while eating caviar in their subsidised House of Commons Restaurant and wine tasting across Europe. Subsidised and paid for by the suffering of sick and disabled people.

I really do wish that some poor, dispossessed soul would find a means of protest by which they did not starve themselves and be further hurt, but would bring home to this coalition Government the sense of fear, stress and destitution that so many of the disabled are suffering.

Disabled people have not let the UK down,.. the UK has let them down.

The Government continue to see sick and disabled people as sheep they can send to their wolf pack Atos at will. Even the meekest of sheep can only be sheered so much before they say “enough is enough” and turn the tables on their hunters.
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And One Day The ‘Sheep’ Said To The Atos Wolves “Enough Is Enough, We Will Not Take This Anymore!”.
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