Press Articles from 2011


Press articles that are critical of the DWP, ESA and Atos medical assessments.

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This website provides information on how Atos runs its business, extracts from the Contract between the DWP and Atos including the MEDICAL CONDITIONS that mean a face to face medical assessment is not always necessary, ASSESSMENTS AND POINTS, the breaches of Contract that occurred in my case, my unsound medical report and the correspondence showing how difficult it is to obtain justice or advice.

Press Articles from 2011

Articles and Dates

You can click on a date to link to the item on this page.

Press 201117 JanuaryPoorest families' standard of living 'will continue to fall'.Guardian
 4 FebruaryI don't want to beg, or be a 'disabled voice'.Guardian
 17 FebruaryWelfare reform: 'most radical shake-up for 60 years'.Guardian
 23 February'The medical was an absolute joke'.Guardian
 23 FebruaryCoalition under fire for changes to disability benefits.Guardian
 9 March'Cancer has shown me the injustice of disability cuts'.Guardian
 12 AprilAtos Healthcare pulls out of NHS contract.Guardian
 11 MayBenefit tests find sick fit to work, say charities.BBC
 11 MayHardest Hit: Disabled people march in London.Guardian
 8 JuneMinister denies fuelling tabloid attacks on 'workshy'.BBC
 13 JuneJobless have to try harder, warns Labour's policy review chief.Guardian
 17 JulyBenefits clawback firm promise 'brighter future' but victim speaks out.Record
 24 JulyBenefits assessment firm causing 'fear and loathing' among claimants, says MP.Guardian
 25 JulyA contract to terrify 1.5m people on incapacity benefit.Guardian
 25 JulyDisability benefit reform: is the government hiding behind Atos errors?Guardian
 13 AugustAtos doctors could be struck off.Guardian
 31 AugustSpot checks on sick benefit staff ordered to be 'nicer'.BBC
 17 SeptemberDisabled people's benefit system needs reform, says minister.Guardian
 21 OctoberCroydon disability assessment centre 'inaccessible' by wheelchair.BBC
 12 November'Fit to work' appeals success rising.BBC
 20 NovemberThe welfare state: the social glue that binds us must be preserved.Observer
 4 DecemberThe demonisation of the disabled is a chilling sign of the times.Observer
 20 DecemberIs the new disabled work benefit working?BBC
 28 DecemberDisability assessment may be a farce, but it's not FrenchGuardian

Press Articles in 2011

17 January 2011 - "Poorest families' standard of living 'will continue to fall'"

About seven million of Britain's poorest people will see their spending power fall by a tenth over the next decade because the prices of essentials such as food, fuel and clothing are rising much faster than inflation, according to new research.

Tom Bawden, The Guardian, 17 January 2011.

4 February 2011 - "I don't want to beg, or be a 'disabled voice'"

Fighting against benefit cuts puts a focus on one's disability - which is just what the DLA helps one escape

...DLA assists you in feeling less disabled, allowing you to put yourself back in that neutral position of having an everyday existence that barely focuses on disability - to simply be just another person...."

Frances Ryan, The Guardian, 4 February 2011.

17 February 2011 - Welfare reform: 'most radical shake-up for 60 years'

The aim is for a simpler, cheaper system that will save £18bn in four years. But the unseemly rush for savings has casualties, such as the concept that national insurance is an insurance policy

Iain Duncan Smith's radical welfare bill, perhaps the most significant reshaping of the welfare state in 60 years, aims to simplify the system of subsidies that covers everything from income support to housing benefit to sickness payments.

...One of the most significant but little-heralded changes is that the welfare state should no longer be regarded as a piggy bank. In the past the public were told that by paying into national insurance, they would be guaranteed benefits should they fall on hard times.

Instead, the government will limit its new "employment and support allowance" to a year...

Randeep Ramesh, The Guardian, 17 February 2011.

23 February 2011 - 'The medical was an absolute joke'

The government's reform of the disability benefits system has angered claimants, who say the new tests fail to identify why they can't work.

...Because of the way the questionnaire has been set, it is much harder to be classified as unfit for work under the new test than previously..."

Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian, 23 February 2011.

23 February 2011 - Coalition under fire for changes to disability benefits

The government's own advisers have criticised its planned overhaul of the disability living allowance

The government's plans to overhaul disability benefits have come under fire from its own official advisory body.

The statutory social security advisory committee is questioning the motives for the proposed replacement of disability living allowance (DLA), paid to almost 3 million people to help cover extra costs arising from their condition.

It is also opposing outright the separate move to withdraw DLA entitlement from people living in care homes who receive it to help with the costs of transport.

David Brindle, The Guardian, 23 February 2011.

9 March 2011 - 'Cancer has shown me the injustice of disability cuts'

My diagnosis means I have experience of the terrible impact of welfare cuts. I will use my time left to shame those in power

...Benefit claimants, as well as people receiving DLA, are being mercilessly attacked in the latest round of spending cuts...."

Gerard Poole, The Guardian, 9 March 2011.

12 April 2011 - Atos Healthcare pulls out of NHS contract

A private company that won a 10-year contract to run a failing GP surgery in east London has pulled out after three years. Doctors are warning that it is a taste of things to come.

..."Atos never had any experience of running GP surgeries. They didn't know Tower Hamlets or the health needs here. They put their bid in with the lowest cost..."

By Andy McNicoll and Denis Campbell, The Guardian, 12 April 2011.

11 May 2011 - Benefit tests find sick fit to work, say charities

Six charities say people with serious illnesses are being found "fit to work" under new sickness benefits tests - and are urging changes to the assessment.

The MS Society, Parkinson's UK and others have urged changes to make the test "fairer" for people with illnesses where symptoms vary over time....

BBC, 11 May 2011.

11 May 2011 - Hardest Hit: Disabled people march in London - Wednesday 11 May 2011

Coverage from the capital as thousands of disabled people protest on the Hardest Hit march against cuts to benefits and services

By Paul Owen, The Guardian, 11 May 2011.

8 June 2011 - Minister denies fuelling tabloid attacks on 'workshy'

Employment Minister Chris Grayling has denied claims the government had helped fuel press coverage labelling benefit claimants as "workshy".

He told MPs that tabloid stories had left him "bemused" and he had been criticised for saying people should not be judged as "scroungers".

But MPs told him there had been a "shocking" failure by ministers to sell welfare reforms as a good news story.

Labour's Glenda Jackson said it had been sold as "attacking the workshy"....

BBC, 8 June 2011.

13 June 2011 - Jobless have to try harder, warns Labour's policy review chief

Liam Byrne to outline plans aiming to tackle irresponsibility in UK boardrooms and among those seeking welfare payments

...Byrne will sketch out long-term plans to reorder the whole contributory principle at the heart of welfare, the idea that healthy citizens in work pay into the state in return for a payout should they become unemployed or sick...

Patrick Wintour, Political Editor, The Guardian, 13 June 2011.

17 July 2011 - Benefits clawback firm promise 'brighter future' but victim speaks out

A PRIVATE firm hired to slash benefits are promising "a brighter future" to claimants whose payouts are stopped.

...They pay doctors up to £60,000 a year to assess whether claimants are fit to work. ...

...In a job advert for doctors, they claim: "You could make the difference that gives someone on incapacity benefit a brighter future." ...

...The advert, published on the British Medical Journal website, adds: "It's a vitally important role that aims to change lives for the better."...

Mark Aitken, Daily Record (Sunday Mail), 17 July 2011.

24 July 2011 - Benefits assessment firm causing 'fear and loathing' among claimants, says MP

Commons committee to publish critical report on Atos, which determines whether people are eligible for sickness benefits

People who are fit and healthy are unlikely to have heard of the company Atos. But anyone who has had to apply for sickness benefits may find that the name triggers – according to one MP – a sense of "fear and loathing"...

Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian, 24 July 2011.

25 July 2011 - A contract to terrify 1.5m people on incapacity benefit

A French company (Atos Origin) is being paid millions to harass incapacity benefit claimants with the threat of being made destitute find a mind-boggling handful of paragraphs about the company's "Logic Integrated Medical Assessment" (or Lima) computer system, which has often seemed to reduce complex cases to the stuff of binary idiocy....

...The results of all this are obvious enough. Thousands of people have been fallaciously deemed fit for work. ...

John Harris, The Guardian, 25 July 2011.

25 July 2011 - Disability benefit reform: is the government hiding behind Atos errors?

Righteous anger by disabled people over Atos incompetence in assessing benefit claims should also be directed at the government

Atos is a French IT company engaged by the government to run the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contract to assess claimants for sickness and disability benefits. It is also the target of blame and fury by many sick and/or disabled people suffering at the hands of an inhumane system.

Exactly what a French IT company would know about sickness, disability, welfare benefits and the tough job of administering such claims might be the first question to spring to mind, but the important questions here are not related to competence. The key issue is whether Atos is responsible for a situation causing so much distress and pain to genuinely sick and disabled people. And who benefits by Atos being seen as responsible for this situation?

The Guardian, 25 July 2011.

13 August 2011 - Atos doctors could be struck off

Twelve medics at the disability assessment centre are under investigation by the GMC over allegations of improper conduct

Twelve doctors employed by the firm that is paid £100m a year to assess people claiming disability benefit are under investigation by the General Medical Council over allegations of improper conduct. The doctors, who work for Atos Healthcare, a French-owned company recently criticised by MPs for its practices, face being struck off if they are found not to have put the care of patients first.

The Observer has found that seven of the doctors have been under investigation for more than seven months. The other five were placed under investigation this year following complaints about their conduct....

The Guardian, 13 August 2011.

31 August 2011 - Spot checks on sick benefit staff ordered to be 'nicer'

The man responsible for improving a controversial sickness benefit test has told the BBC he is going to make unannounced visits to job centres.

Professor Malcolm Harrington will do the spot checks to see if changes he has recommended to a test for people claiming Employment and Support Allowance are actually happening...

BBC, 31 August 2011.

17 September 2011 - Disabled people's benefit system needs reform, says minister

Work and pensions minister Steve Webb accepts reform is necessary for Atos-approved employment support allowance

Controversial assessments of disabled people that have led to many losing their state benefits will be reformed, said Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat work and pensions minister.

He accepted there was genuine anger about how claimants of employment support allowance (ESA) had been treated. The "vast majority" of claimants for ESA, which has replaced incapacity benefit, are deemed fit for work by Atos, the French company which is paid £100m a year to assess claimants.

Yet four out of 10 of those who appeal against the decision by Atos are successful, a process that costs the taxpayer £50m a year. Last month Atos, whose staff assess around 11,000 benefit claimants a week, was savaged by the cross-party work and pensions select committee after it found that many people had "not received the level of service from Atos which they can reasonably expect"....

The Guardian, 17 September 2011.

21 October 2011 - Croydon disability assessment centre 'inaccessible' by wheelchair

Wheelchair-users said they are being forced to try to climb a flight of stairs at a disability benefits assessment centre in south London.

The centre on Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon, is on the first floor and wheelchair-users say they were told they were not allowed to use the lift.

Allan Prince from Croydon Disability Forum said it was "unacceptable"....

BBC, 21 October 2011.

12 November 2011 - 'Fit to work' appeals success rising

Wheelchair-users said they are being forced to try to climb a flight of stairs at a disability benefits assessment centre in south London.

Thousands of disabled people who have been assessed under new government rules as fit for work are having the decision overturned on appeal.

BBC Inside Out East has found that of the 146,200 appeals that have been heard to date, 56,500 (more than a third), have been upheld in favour of the claimant.

Atos, the company carrying out the tests, called the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), is being paid £100m a year by the UK government....

BBC, 12 November 2011.

20 November 2011 - The welfare state: the social glue that binds us must be preserved

At different times in our life cycle most of us may experience a period of vulnerability and need to draw on the 'welfare pot'.

In an open letter published in the Observer today, 18 bishops ask for amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill now going through Parliament. The letter says that as a result of the proposed cap on benefits, an estimated 210,000 children may be pushed into "severe poverty" and another 80,000 made homeless.

...According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a couple who both work full time with two children need to earn 24% more this year than last because of the impact of rising food and fuel prices, the freezing of child benefit and the reduction in the reimbursement for childcare - all measures which also hit the majority of those on benefits even more savagely...

Observer, 20 November 2011.

4 December 2011 - The demonisation of the disabled is a chilling sign of the times

There is a climate of hostility towards people for whom life is already difficult and it is being fostered by politicians and journalists.

...Many emanate from the Department for Work and Pensions, which has twisted facts, manipulated statistics and distorted data to win support for its drive to cut costs and crack down on benefit fraud. This cascade of spurious claims and scandalously spun stories ends up demonising the disabled. It does no credit to Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary of state, who proclaims himself a compassionate Conservative. Ministers say they cannot be blamed for the actions of the media, but they know how the game is played...

Observer, 4 December 2011.

20 December 2011 - Is the new disabled work benefit working?

Employment minister Chris Grayling says he is confident glitches in the system used to decide who is fit to work have been fixed. Two years after the new 'work capability test' was introduced, what's it like for those who go through the assessment?...

BBC, 20 December 2011.

28 December 2011 - Disability assessment may be a farce, but it's not French

There's no point blaming foreigners for the failure of our government's procurement policies. Profit is the real problem

...To recap: Atos assesses claimants for disability benefits, a contract that it was awarded in 2005, running for seven years and worth £500m. This contract should be up for renewal in 2012...

Guardian, 28 December 2011.