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Monday, 4 April 2011

UK Government attacking benefit claimants

Today in the UK, saw the first moves in the coalition's supposed crackdown on sickness benefits for 1.6 million claimants, with the initial 7,000 letters going out calling them in for reassessment of their ability to work.

UK Employment Minister Chris Grayling has been almost beside himself with glee recently, claiming that trial results in Burnley and Aberdeen indicate that around half a million people could be reclassified as fit for work over the next three years, with another 600,000 potentially employable given the right support.

Now, seeing that this means that Mr Grayling can drop them from invalidity benefit onto the considerably lower jobseeker's allowance, he looks to make a considerable saving in his department's budget.

Well, good for Mr Grayling. He will probably get himself a gold star from Chancellor George Osborne for savings above and beyond the call of duty.

It won't, of course, do a damned thing to help the claimants themselves.
Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against Atos Origin beginning on Monday 9th May with a picnic and party in Triton Square*, home of their head office, at 2pm.

Atos Origin have just begun a £300 million contract by the Con-dem Government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’ on all of those claiming Incapacity Benefit.

It is claimed assessments 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.

This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer.

Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful.

On the 24th January claimants from around the country demonstrated outside Atos Origins premises, with many choosing to close for the day rather than face their 'clients'. We call on all groups around the UK to take action against these parasites who have been dubbed 'the racial purity and euthanasia arm of the DWP'

A list of Atos Origin's corporate offices can be found at:

Atos testing centres are listed at:

If you are holding an event, protest or action in your home town please add details on the wall below to have your event added to this page and the website. Alternatively contact us at:

In the meantime the Third National Day of Action Against Benefit Cuts is taking place on Thursday April 14th. Visit the facebook page for more info and help spread the word:

*Triton Square is on the North side of Euston Road, just over the road from Warren Street tube and less than five minutes from Euston/Euston Square or Great Portland Street tube stations.
It will reduce the paltry amount on which a large percentage of claimants are forced to exist by around 30 per cent, leaving them in even more trouble than they are already in.

It will affect their lifestyles and standards of nutrition so drastically that those already ill but reclassified as fit for work will see their health deteriorate rapidly, taking them back into unfit classification, but even more ill than they were previously.

Meanwhile, will those who manage not to fall back into serious illness happily join the ranks of the working millions, pulling in a good wage and turning their lives around?

Sorry, but there's precious little chance of that.

It's much more likely that they will merely join the ranks of the 2.5 million already unemployed, because there isn't any sign that this government is putting money into growing the economy.

Quite the reverse, in fact. The cuts elsewhere are due to take and are already taking billions out of the economy, leaving job creation a very remote possibility indeed.

Which, in one way, is a useful get-out for this government because it actually couldn't afford to have the newly classified working people getting jobs.

After all, at the same time it is proposing to turn the private sector loose on job placement, rewarding privateering companies with fees of up to £14,000 each for finding work for clients.

Too much success there and the government could be billions out of pocket, something that it really wouldn't be too happy with.

And the Tories and their Lib Dem cronies can't rely on the apparently increasing state pension to release more money into the economy and stimulate growth.

Because they are emphatic that there won't be any new money and that the higher state pension will be funded simply by removing additional means-tested benefits from the menu.

Which is not the same thing as removing the humiliation of means testing from the system.

In fact, it means removing additional benefits from those who need them and distributing them across all pensioners, leaving those with greater needs with less resources in many cases.

The "simplification" of the pension system, as with the benefits system, appears to mean no more than cuts for those at the bottom of the heap.

Iain Duncan Smith says that removing pension credits means the removal of a huge "disincentive" to save.

Perhaps someone needs to remind Mr Smith that the biggest disincentive to saving while in employment is low wages and no leeway to make savings.

Yet another day of phoney promises, then, and yet another set of Tory attacks to be fought off.
National Week of Action Against Atos Origin

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