Monday, July 02, 2012

Call on MPs to debate ATOS and 1,100 deaths

ONE good thing that has happened in recent years is that people with disabilities or needing help have been organising, and using the abilities they do have, to fight their corner, so they are not leaving each other alone to succumb to whatever is done to them, and not leaving the rest of us with the excuse that "we didn't know".

Just as well. The government and its propagandists in the media may do all they can to incite hostility to those it is attacking, telling us it is people making benefit claims who, along with pensioners living too long, are responsible for the crisis, and not rich bankers and City speculators gambling with other people's lives and money. Judging from the increasing amount of violence against the disabled there are enough lumpen yobs ready to believe them. It is easier than taking on the rich and powerful.

But anyone of us could find ourselves among the unemployed, homeless, chronically sick or disabled. The odds on becoming desperately poor are much better than on becoming a millionaire.

On Saturday I posted about the man so desperate he set fire to himself outside a Birmingham Job Centre. I went on to quote a report saying more than a thousand people claiming sickness benefit died last year after being told they were fit enough to go get a job.

The boss of ATOS, the firm given the contract to get them off benefit has picked up nearly £1 million bonus.

"Is no one doing anything about all this?", people will say. "Surely someone should be raising it in parliament?".

Someone is. It is the same Labour MP to whom it seems to have been left to raise so many things. Here is a report from the newsletter of the ME and CFS Association:

Commons attempt to get MPs to debate ATOS and “the deaths of 1,100 Employment and Support Act claimants”
by Tony Britton on July 2, 2012

A Labour MP has launched an attempt to get the House of Commons to debate the £100m-a-year contract awarded to Atos to carry out work capability assessments of people applying for Employment and Support Allowance – which he claims has led to the deaths of 1,100 claimants put in the category for compulsory work-related activity.

In an Early Day Motion tabled last Thursday, John McDonnell (Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington) also praised the British Medical Association whose Annual Representative Conference last week called for the work capability assessment to be scrapped immediately and to be replaced with a system that does not harm the most vulnerable people in society.

His motion also includes condemnation of the decision to allow Atos to sponsor the Paralympics which follow the London Olympic Games and, for good measure, Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the Games themselves.

Dow took over the Union Carbide company whose plant at Bhopal, India, leaked methyl isocyanate gas in 1984 – leading to the deaths and injury of thousands of people in the vicinity. The event was one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

At the moment, the Early Day Motion – EDM 295 – is not supported by a single other MP.

Early Day Motion 295

Session 2012-13
Date tabled: 28.06.2012
Primary sponsor: McDonnell, John

That this House deplores that thousands of sick and disabled constituents are experiencing immense hardship after being deprived of benefits following a work capability assessment carried out by Atos Healthcare under a 100 million a year contract; notes that 40 per cent of appeals are successful but people wait up to six months for them to be heard; deplores that last year 1,100 claimants died while under compulsory work-related activity for benefit and that a number of those found fit for work and left without income have committed or attempted suicide; condemns the International Paralympic Committee’s promotion of Atos as its top sponsor and the sponsorship of the Olympics by Dow Chemical and other corporations responsible for causing death and disability; welcomes the actions taken by disabled people, carers, bereaved relatives and organisations to end this brutality and uphold entitlement to benefits; and applauds the British Medical Association call for the work capability assessment to end immediately and to be replaced with a system that does not cause harm to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

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At 1:48 PM, Blogger merlen hogg said...

I loved reading this piece! Well written!

Merlen Hogg


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