Britain Today,  Disability Rights

AtoS In the News

After requiring considerable persuasion to pull the plug on stocking News International publications following the hacking of Millie Dowder’s mobile phone – as numerable private companies were doing so – I would expect the Co-op to be more attuned to defending the little person against the corporate behemoth.

One such opportunity soon will be when their contract with AtoS is up for renewal. Currently their occupational health programme is conducted by AtoS.

At least entry by employees is voluntary and not along the lines of the work capacity assessments for the DWP which is attracting extensive negative coverage for AtoS elsewhere. Although I am somewhat uneasy about the emphasis on AtoS being a French firm, the substance of this recent piece by the Daily Record can be summed-up by the claims made by a former assessor:

A NURSE has revealed how her own life was ruined after under-fire benefits firm Atos forced her to “trick” disabled people out of cash.

Joyce Drummond’s medical training meant she knew claimants were unfit to work.

But she was told to mark people as fit if they could write or show up for an interview properly dressed. Eventually, Joyce was carpeted by bosses for being “too nice” to claimants.

After five months, she was signed off with stress caused by “having to trick sick people out of their benefit”. She quit in July 2009 and hasn’t worked since.

Joyce said candidates were marked down if they:

*looked well-presented, with neat hair and make-up.

*turned up with a toddler.

*could sign the application form.

Amidst other reports of rejected claimants winning their appeals only to be challenged again by AtoS and of a vote by Scottish GPs in favour of withdrawing co-operation with work capacity assessments, some figures which stood out was that a majority of claimants reallocated/pruned by AtoS subsequently remained out-of-work and without income.

As the piece distinguishes between this group and the two thirds of the remainder who became eligible for other benefits, I assume the first figure refers to claimants who were deemed to have family members present to fund them. That one third of the remainder (15% of the total) subsequently found work might appear impressive, but it glosses over whether under normal circumstances they would have overcome their [temporary, as it might turn out] debilitating condition.

Furthermore, the description of it as employment may be very loose, referring instead to work of 16 hours a week or fewer which disability claimants already are entitled to pursue.

(Note, I cannot locate the Government report or FoI request referred to in the Daily Record piece. If readers can oblige, I will add an update.)

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