Apr 132011
 

For immediate release

Photo opportunity: Thursday 14th April, 2.30pm at Daily Mail Headquarters,

Young Street (off Kensington High Street), London, W8 5TT

On Thursday 14th April, disabled people, people with illnesses, parents, people on low wages, unemployed people, carers and others will protest at the Daily Mail Headquarters. The colourful noise demonstration will demand an end to the defamation of people who need state welfare support to survive.

The protest takes place as part of the third national day of action against benefit cuts. The aim is to challenge the legitimacy of the government’s drive to move claimants off Incapacity Benefit, putting around 1600 people a day through a medical test run by private company Atos Origin. The test has been widely discredited by the CAB, Child Poverty Action Group, and others. A damning CAB report concluded “”Doctors pay more attention to the computer than the client”.

Yet the Daily Mail has been using the results of Atos Origin’s computer-based tests to mount a campaign against disabled people and people with illnesses claiming Incapacity Benefit. Their lurid claims have included “76% of those who say they’re sick can work” and “Thousands in Britain on incapacity benefit because they are too fat to work”.

Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against Cuts says:

“The lies and half truths that the Daily Mail has published have resulted in an increase of hate crime attacks against disabled people. We are not prepared to sit back and allow them to continue to peddle their disgusting disablist propaganda unchallenged.”

Anne Novis MBE, has issued this call to action:

“Yes you, and you and you, all of you who stand by and say nothing or encourage such vicious and undeserving attacks are just as responsible for what is happening. Those who stand by and allow this are equivalent to those who stood by when disabled people and Jews were targeted by the Nazis for annihilation. Too harsh for you? Its our lives we are fighting for, our very lives, some have already killed themselves due to what is happening, many more are considering it. Will you stand by?”

Martin Campbell of London Coalition Against Poverty has said:

“The Daily Mail needs to know the disgust and anger its fear-mongering lies provoke. All those who experience the stress, insecurity, illness and sometimes destitution that result from Atos Origin’s disastrous computerised “medical assessment” have a clear message for the Mail: Stop the lies! Stop the Defamation!”

Notes:

1.    The Day of Action has been called by networks of claimants’ groups around the country, including Disabled People Against Cuts. The first two days of protest against benefit cuts have seen demonstrations, meetings, unemployed discos, public pantomimes and occupations in cities across the UK. Atos Origin have been forced to close offices, protesters have gathered inside and outside workfare sharks A4e and demonstrations have taken place from Downing Street to local town centres such as Lydney and Crawley.

2.    Protests will take place in 12 cities across the UK, and include an online action for those not able to travel by the “Armchair Army”.

3.    Since 1 April 2011, a mass assessment of Incapacity Benefit claimants is being rolled out across the country. This despite the CAB condemning the replacement “Employment and Support Allowance” (ESA) and the medical tests run by multinational company Atos as “not fit for purpose”; and strong criticisms from Child Poverty Action Group and others. “Doctors produce inaccurate reports .. reporting incorrectly what the claimant has said about their own conditions and taking their answers out of context.” and “Doctors pay more attention to the computer than the client;” [CAB report 2009].

4.    The tests do not work: One in four ESA decisions are appealed and the CAB’s evidence suggests that 70% of appeals are successful.

5.    The Daily Mail has led the propaganda against the most vulnerable society, which has made these attacks on benefits for sick and disabled people possible:

o    Half a million claiming sickness benefits could start work immediately, says employment minister

o    Sickness benefits crackdown begins as up to two million claimants face being stripped of payments

o    76% of those who say they’re sick ‘can work’: Tests weed out most seeking incapacity benefit

o    75% of incapacity claimants are fit to work: Tough new benefits test weeds out the workshy

o    The sick man of Europe: UK tops chart for number of young people off work claiming incapacity benefit

o    Thousands in Britain on incapacity benefit because they are too fat to work

o    Number of drug addicts and alcoholics on incapacity benefit is on rise

o    Nine out of ten on incapacity benefits ‘are fit to return to work’

o    Sicknote generation: Half a million under-35s ‘too sick to work’ are claiming incapacity benefits

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  2 Responses to “Claimants to demonstrate to demand of Daily Mail: “Stop the lies””

  1. Forever we’ve fought for inclusion. Once-upon-a-time we were largely invisible to the general public. Indeed, plaster representations of us stood outside shops with begging boxes. That was about as close as many people felt comfortable to us.

    The pace of change, though slow, was beginning to gather speed; and in the last 20+ years we’ve seen legislation such as the NHS and Community Care Act; the introduction of DLA; the DDA in 1995; and Direct Payments.

    Though there were still mountains to climb in the form of societal and economic barriers; our lives were beginning to improve; and we were gaining more freedom. With this freedom came greater visibility; which for the most part was a positive. No longer where we confined to the shadows; society’s mistakes hidden behind walls.

    Visibility came with a price.

    Stories about Incapacity Benefit began appearing towards the end of the Tories 18-year reign of despair. And, as a last act spite the Tory’s established the Benefits’ Integrity Project. The BIP was, ostensibly, put in place to clean up fraud amongst disabled claimants. Of 55,000 cases investigated the BIP unearthed only 50 potential cases of fraud – 0.09%!

    You’ll note ’50 potential cases’. As I recall the overwhelming majority of these were not prosecuted, because it’s hardly fraud if you fail to report an improvement in your condition, especially when you don’t actually feel any improvement, or benefit of improvement.

    The newshounds of the Heil and other such rags soon got onto the scent, deliberately, laid by the Tories and refreshed by New Labour. The scummy sensationalist-end of TV joined in the hue and cry; and before long disabled people were seen as cheats and parasites.

    It’s probably no co-incidence that disability hate crime began to feature more frequently on the radar at this time. With media overexposure we became easy targets for those who allow newspapers to do their thinking. The kind of people who need to refer to the Sun or Heil in order to find out who today’s scapegoats are.

    In some ways ATOS is the final manifestation of the process of our demonization. First, governments use us to massage their criminally high unemployment figures. Then, we outgrow our usefulness as ideology is re-twisted to shape the next desperate election manifesto. The media is then given licence to invent, or more properly re-invent, disabled people as lead-swinging cheats who have brought the country to its knees economically with their profligate ways.

    The government knows the true extent of fraud amongst disabled claimants; but, in keeping silent it is in tacit agreement with scummy lazy journalists who regard us as legitimate targets to smear across the column inches of their rags.

    Incensed by what they read people feel it is their public duty to abuse disabled people. So much so that recently a disabled woman collapsed outside a neighbour’s house. As she lay dying her neighbour felt it his civic duty to piss upon her while his friends laughed and recorded the incident on a mobile phone. Nobody deserves to spend their dying moments subjected to such inhumanity – what have we become!

    Thus demonised it is easy for companies like ATOS to carry out the government’s bidding. Doubtlessly many of these ATOS assessors allow scummy newspapers to form their opinions for them. Why wouldn’t they, seeing as they’ve sold their professional integrity to the DWP for a pittance.

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