One group of poverty pimps will be rubbing their filthy hands with glee. Wherever you find human misery you can usually find some odious cunts attempting to make a quick buck and in the case the odious cunts are called Atos Origin.
Atos Origin were given the contract to run the new assessments for Employment Support Allowance. It is claimed assessments tests are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.
The new tests will either place people into the ‘Support Group’ who will receive full benefit unimpeded (for now), be referred for benefit conditional on ‘Work Related Activity’ or be forced to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). Claimants on JSA are expected to prove they are actively seeking work, will receive less benefit and may be farmed out to the likes of A4E to act as unpaid labour for companies too tight to pay their staff the minimum wage. (1)
To date only 9% of people have been placed in the Support Group with 69% refused ESA and declared fit for work.
Many of these people have severe disabilities, mental health problems or chronic physical health problems which massively limit the type of work they are able to do, if they are really able to work at all.
Perhaps in a perfect world there would be jobs tailored to people’s disabilities, work-based counsellors and sympathetic employers to support people with mental health difficulties back to work. Perhaps one day we will see employers with flexible working practices allowing folk to take time off on the ‘bad days’ when their condition makes work impossible.
Sadly the world is far from fucking perfect and unemployment is approaching two million people.
So far 40% of those who have been found fit for work and appealed have been successful. That’s 40% of claimants who will have faced the possibility of homelessness and poverty for up to eight months, whilst the lengthy and expensive appeals process takes it’s course.
As one person recently said on this Consumer Action forum (2) after being forced into the appeals system:
“The irony is that I have just been given a diet for my condition from my doctor, there is no way I can buy these foods.”
Citizen’s Advice have just released a report called ‘Not Working’ (3) (pdf) after a 40 per cent increase in the number of people approaching them for help with sickness benefits. One of their cases summarised below:
“A bureau in the Midlands saw a client who had a genetic kidney disorder and who had had one kidney and part of the other kidney removed. She also had sciatica and spondylosis. She was found not to have limited capability for work. She has since been told that her condition may be terminal.”
This story is far from unusual and we’ll be featuring much more about these tests and their unwitting victims over the next few weeks. If you’ve had an ugly experience with Atos Origin please contact us at: email@example.com
Atos Origin also carry out assessments for DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) staff. Take the case of ME sufferer Vikki Bell. According to a BBC Scotland report (4) she was dismissed from her DWP desk job after an Atos assessment concluded she was too ill for the role, and was unlikely to return in the foreseeable future.
The same Vikki Bell who was later told when applying for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) that she was fit to work and did not qualify for the benefit. And who carried out this assessment. Atos Origin, the same bunch of bastards who had her sacked in the first place.
Atos Origin like unemployment as much as they like fucking the unemployed. On the front page of their website they link to a document entitled ‘New Era for the Public Sector’ (5). This is essentially a sales pitch for their consultancy where they:
“have a team of Organisation and HR professionals who undertake the analysis, design and execution of the headcount reduction.”
Atos Origin’s head office is at Triton Square, Regent’s Place, London and they have regional offices around the country which can be found here (6).
We ain’t leaving these bastards alone.