May 242012

Stop ATOS! End Work Capability Assessments!

MCAC is working with Manchester Against Benefit cuts to organise a week of action against changes to disability living allowance and the role of ATOS in carrying out “evaluations” for fitness to work which have been linked to over 1000 deaths between August and January following loss to benefits (see press coverage below). Please support this action to highlight this scandal. More details of week of action to follow.

Details of week of action
31 May, 12pm: Protest march from Albert Square to ATOS “assessment” centre at Albert Bridge House

6 June, 7pm: Public Meeting at Friends’ Meeting House on building resistance against ATOS

9 June, 11am: Petition and stall, Market Street

Manchester Against Benefit Cuts Facebook page
Welfare cuts “linked to suicide”

There is “anecdotal evidence” of people committing suicide after losing their benefits following a reassessment, an MP has claimed.

A freedom of information request revealed that between January and August last year, 1,100 people had died after they lost their benefits.

Labour MP John McDonnell asked the Government to investigate whether there was a trend of people with mental health problems committing suicide after being ruled as fit for employment.

He said: “MPs across the House, and ministers, have emphasised the importance that care must be taken in dealing with people with mental health problems as they approach the medical and capability assessments, even if they lose benefits.

“There is some anecdotal evidence of suicides taking place of people who have lost benefits.

“Has the Government explored any of the coroners’ reports in these cases where there has been a reference to the loss of benefits as a contributory factor, and what lessons have been learnt?”

Speaking in the Commons, employment minister Chris Grayling replied: “We will always look very, very carefully indeed where something like that happens. So far my experience is that the story is much more complicated. But that does not mean we are not doing the right thing.

“I passionately believe that we should be helping (people), particularly those with mental health problems. I have met people who have been out of work for years and years and years with chronic depression who we are now beginning to help back into work.

“We have got to be very careful but we do look very carefully when those situations arise.”

Source: UK Press Association 23rd April 2012