Campaigners have vowed to protest every month until the government scraps “inappropriate” tests examining if disabled people are fit to work.

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And they renewed calls for the assessments by the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) private contractor Atos Healthcare to be held in a more accessible office in Norwich.

Tens of protesters with placards, whistles, horns and brass instruments gathered yesterday outside the Atos office, which is on the second floor of St Mary’s House, in Duke Street. People in wheelchairs or who have restricted mobility are advised they must be able to walk downstairs in the event of an emergency as the lift will be out of use. They are offered appointments at home or at assessment centres in areas including King’s Lynn, Cambridge and Ipswich as an alternative.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, said: “We have decided we will demonstrate monthly until the DWP and the government scrap work capability assessments and until they move Atos out of the inaccessible offices they are in. The whole assessment is completely inappropriate for the majority of disabled people. If you take people with neurological, mental health conditions, cancer, they are being declared fit for work as they get no points in the assessments.”

A DWP spokeswoman said they endeavoured to make it clear to people before appointments if an office was not accessible and organise an alternative.

She said: “The previous system abandoned people to a life on benefits without checking to see if they could, with the right support, go back to work. We’ve made substantial changes to the work capability assessment and the proportion of people being placed in the support group has more than doubled in just two years.

“We are working with Atos to ensure there is appropriate access at all sites used and we hope that this will be the case shortly.”

36 comments

  • More fascism is not a cure for fascism.Fascism is like a virus.Nick Griffin has no solutions to our problems because he is part of the problem.

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    Peter Watson

    Sunday, February 17, 2013

  • I would so love to answer some of the rot I am reading here, but blocked as usual!

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • Who is behind ATOS and were did it suddenly pop up from? Another shower like A4E I shouldn't wonder. If anyone has forgotten, A4E was paid millions by government for 'welfare to work' scheme that was another part of the government's anti-welfare political agenda. In reality it had little to do with delivering anything of benefit to the people of this country and on that measure was a complete success. It collapsed amid accusations of fraud and a police investigation is ongoing. I believe A4E was run by one of Cameron's chums.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • They could be professional whistle-blowers.Move on you have never had it so good.

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    PaulH

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • Saddest of all is the goverment's desire to politicise the practice helping those in need and to revel in people playing off against each other. Ever heard of divide and conquer?

    Report this comment

    NigelS

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • How much are all you people in favour of the 'reforms' expecting to see shaved off the welfare bill? No wonder ATOS are putting the boot in, when the government is paying them £3 billion over 5 years for their efforts.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • BG believes the economics of George "We are all in this together"Osborne.I am not sure whether either Osborne nor BG could count their own legs without a calculator.It is £1.2billion as per the DWP's own research website here.http:research.dwp.gov.ukasdasd2index.php?page=fraud_error Evidence dear boy evidence.

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    Peter Watson

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • Thankfully their are journos around with a bit of integrity left.http:www.guardian.co.ukcommentisfree2013feb01welfare-fraud-tax-avoidance

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    Peter Watson

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • As someone who was in the system and labelled as unfit for work, I was glad to finally get a job and learn to cope at work despite my health problems. Although there are a great deal of people who are unfit to work, there are a great deal who are fit and take the preverbial, which in itself makes it harder for the genuine claimants. BG is right with his figures unlike Mr Norton who is way off the mark. Take the protesters today, if you are fit enough to protest, you are fit enough to do some form of work. I've been there and worked my way out....

    Report this comment

    viperman17

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • "caught up in"? BG is the government's black propaganda programme on any subject you care to mention...

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • A great deal of money is spent by the government supporting people with all sorts of disabilities. The abuse of the system is widespread and I believe that about one quarter of claimants stop claiming when called in for assessment, which just proves the point. It is difficult to make exceptions as to who should be tested and the govt is probably right in calling everyone in. There will be extreme cases which will be used by protesters but I feel that is a price worth paying to sort out a system which is totally out of hand. Too many people have been allowed to sit at home and claim when they could be doing work of some sort or another.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Government figures,Estimate of DWP Benefit Fraud £1.2billion.HMRC's our figures say tax avoidance is more than £30 billion.Tax Justice UK claim it is much ,much more.The government are targetting their resources at the wrong people.There is not Equality of Sacrifice or of media reporting.Why should sick and disabled people pay the price for the bankers and politicians failures?

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • We call for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of Welfare Reform, and a New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions This is what the WoW petition is asking for.Over 20,000 people have signed already ,http:epetitions.direct.gov.ukpetitions43154 Please sign and pass on.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Fear not people, maybe the billions from the govrnment's 'city deals' gimmick will create some plastic jobs suitable for anyone unfairly kicked off benefits.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Monday, February 18, 2013

  • CI, you did not complete your first sentence. It should have ended ' by removing benefit from those who are not genuinely entitled to it.' We should help all those who genuinely need it. This is not a political matter but an economic one. The massive increase in disability, housing and many other benefits over the last ten years or so has been disproportionate and defies logical belief. It is simply not affordable. As I have already said, we should help those who genuinely deserve it , as is the case with many who receive this benefit, but the increase in recipients means a review is justified. It should be done fairly and sympathetically.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • did you vote for the last labour goverment who left us in this mess. Did you vote for the coalition who are no better than labour . Are you going to carry on voting for failier . Or are you going to vote for a party like the bnp who have promised to put british people first in housing jobs and taxes

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • There are some answers to this fascist insult on humanity starting with Francesca Martinez WoW petition which now has more than 20,000 signatures calling for a full impact assessment of the effect on these changes.100,00 needed.With your help we can get there.

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    Peter Watson

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Nice to see an article free from MPs’ soundbites, but on the other hand how utterly disgusting to see Freeman, Smith, and Simpson using a tragic accident and death of a woman to bolster their campaign for A47 “improvements”. Are there no depths to which these people will stoop to get themselves some favourable press coverage?

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • where to find my censored content:

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • The 1.2% figure is the DWP estimate and relates to fraud and error. Which is quiet different from someone who as wrongly been assessed in the past of being incapable of working. That is not fraud, that is a wrong assessment which this exercise is all about putting right. Many people have decided not to continue claiming and many have been reassessed and found capable of returning to work of some sort. Yes many have been successful in overturning that decision on appeal but it still means that a significant number of people are fit for work and are not entitled to benefits. Its all a matter of understanding the difference between, "fraud and error," and reassessment.

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    BG

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • JL,s figures are not wrong! Only around 1.2% of disability claims are scroungers. There is in principle nothing wrong in assessment. The problem lies in the method. These do not bare scrutiny. The fact of the matter is that a large proportion of genuine people are incorrectly categorised. The proof of that is that 40% of appeals show that the original findings were incorrect. If you have paid into the NI system all your life it is a shock to find that you are going to get no help. The system has changed twice since it was introduced. Both times it has meant that genuine people are finding themselves in greater difficulty. A commercial company like ATOS runs a computerised tick box system (one size fits all) with no 'decision maker' Disability is a complex problem which cannot be properly assessed by this method. The decisions are then made by DWP , the decision maker. The value of this can only be correct if the proper medical evidence has been produced, in no case is that a requirement! People should be aware that any one of us may find ourselves in the position of becoming disabled. Disability of course may not exclude work but where it does the devastation of having no support is often fatal.

    Report this comment

    Nick

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • The DWP estimate around 0.5% of disability benefits are fraudulently claimed,although the rightwing press would have you believing fairy stories.Atos is being paid over £112 million by us and is getting 4 out of every 10 tests wrong,overturned on appeal.Why should those with long-term,progressive health conditions ie you are not going to get better only worse,being put through this?Over 200 people have committed suicide as a result of the stress these tests produce,and yet claimants do not have access to the DWP Mental Health Champions, As Caroline Lucas MP said making "sick people sicker.The trials which have been undertaken since the Harrington Report mean only 4 claimants are assessed each day not the 11 Atos demands.Atos have even disciplined one of their own nurses because she was "over sensitive"to a woman suffering from auditory hallucinations.One claimant who was incontinent as a result of their illness was told they could go to work in a nappy.Another died the day after he was found fit for work.The protests against the way this government is implementing welfare reform can only grow.If ever there was a nasty party it is there in all its glory to see,not forgetting the duplicitous yellowtories.There is only one word for it.Heartless.Scrap the WCA.Labour should not have signed the Atos contract either.Also,please sign the WOW petition for a full impact assessment of these welfare changes.Having a long-term health condition is not a lifestyle choice.

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    Peter Watson

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • When it comes to disabilities 'Abuse of the system' has NEVER been widespread! BG has this so wrong! A huge large number of people are being incorrectly assessed and also made to feel completely worthless. Becoming disabled, losing your job because nobody wants you and then finding that any meaningful support is non-existence is more than difficult especially when you have spent your whole life paying into the system! The system stinks! The people making the big bucks here are ATOS and they don't give A TOS!

    Report this comment

    Nick

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • The entire and only purpose of this "reform" and the use of ATOS et al is to drive down the welfare bill. It has little genuine regard to an individual's ability to work but rather can a case be concocted to remove them from benefits. What percentage are genuinely scroungers? It would be nice to have a truly unbiased assessment of the situation nationwide to help us make an informed judgement. As it is we have instead an ideologically-motivated attack from a government keen to play to their core supporters' extremism. If you suspect someone is playing the system then do the right thing and report them. There are prosecutions regularly for benefit fraud, take the Gaffer for example.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • BG, it sounds like you have got caught up in the black propaganda programme that this government have launched against the disabled, labelling them all as cheats and scroungers. I don't know where you have got your figures from? But only 1.1-1.2% are thought to be falsely claiming. Atos are an absolute sham and costing the taxpayer an absolute fortune as a large amount of there 'fit for work findings' are overturned at tribunals.

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    John L Norton

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Those who are genuinely unable to work should be helped. However the enormous and disproportionate growth in the number of claimants over the last few years does deserve investigation. This must be done sensitively and fairly. The fact that in the pilot scheme for assessment so many stop claiming before they are assessed suggests that this review is right and the figures released by the government prove it - JL your figures are biased guesswork. Equally the number of decisions overturned also needs investigation whether ATOS or whoever are being too tough or the appeal process is too lenient. As I said at the outset, those who genuinely need it deserve help but as a taxpayer (and as a non government nor a poltical supporter) we need to look at all expenditure and there is no doubt the benefit system is still out of control.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • close to 150 billion each year is channelled past treasuries, fiddled away by those fortunate enough to have other create wealth for them. Our banks are still unreformed and Cameron and Osborne are desperate to avoid the new banking regulations proposed by Europe. Then there is the tax relief for companies paying taxes in low tax countries, the St....cks of this world. Libor rate fraud, no arrests, HSBC colluding with drug dealers to the tune of 9 billion, no arrests, London the fraud capital of the world and 2.3 billion of fraud in public sector local Government and you want us to comment on the disabled being harassed by some second rate French outfit who need their daily horse meat fix? get real EDP, attack those who deserve it, not those struggling. When one fifth of doctors believe that ATOS has raised the suicide rate through their regime, you should not applaud but ask why?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • BG, it sounds like you have got caught up in the black propaganda programme that this government have launched against the disabled, labelling them all as cheats and scroungers. I don't know where you have got your figures from? But only 1.1-1.2% are thought to be falsely claiming. Atos are an absolute sham and costing the taxpayer an absolute fortune as a large amount of there 'fit for work findings' are overturned at tribunals.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • BG, it sounds like you have got caught up in the black propaganda programme that this government have launched against the disabled, labelling them all as cheats and scroungers. I don't know where you have got your figures from? But only 1.1-1.2% are thought to be falsely claiming. Atos are an absolute sham and costing the taxpayer an absolute fortune as a large amount of there 'fit for work findings' are overturned at tribunals.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • for the Information of Police Commissioner - Atos Healthcare undertakes independent assessments by healthcare professionals in relation to health-related benefits on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The contract between the DWP and Atos Healthcare was first awarded in 1998. It was renewed for 7 years in 2005 as part of a competitive tender and extended for 3 years in 2010 through to 2015. Seems to have been a left over from the Blair Brown years another myth it was all dreamt up by the Tories.

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    BG

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • Thank you BG. A very insightful copy 'n' paste straight off the company's website. A level of investigation that's right at home in the EDP.

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Sunday, February 17, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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