Aug 052013


Last month (12 June), Mark Hoban said this during a debate on people’s right to ask for a recording of their employment and support allowance face-to-face assessments:


“The Department and Atos are in the process of amending written communications to claimants by updating the WCA AL1C form. The document is sent to claimants when they need to arrange a face-to-face assessment and will provide more information on how to arrange an audio-recorded assessment. We expect the revised form to be sent out to claimants by the end of next month, once the necessary changes have been made and the form has been cleared for use.” 

In other words – the DWP was finally going to change the documents it sends to ESA claimants to let them know that they can ask to have their Atos face-to-face assessments recorded. It’s vital that people know they have that right, because with a recording, they are able to demonstrate beyond doubt what was said and what happened at their assessments.

By “the end of next month,” Hoban surely meant the end of July – and we’ve just gone past that deadline.


Jayne Linney, DPAC, Black Triangle, False Economy and Public Interest Lawyers  (who, with disabled man Patrick Lynch, took a legal action against the DWP last year on people’s right to record their assessments ) are publishing this blog and asking you to reblog and share it to find out if the DWP has changed the documents it sends out to ESA claimants and if people have noted that. Earlier this month, the DWP sent Public Interest Lawyers this document as an example of the leaflet that claimants should receive about their face-to-face assessments. This document includes information which advises people of their right to ask for a recording. We want to know whether people are getting that document and if word is spreading that people can make that request.


This is important for a number of reasons. The first is, of course, that people need to know they have this right and that they can request a recording when they are called to an Atos ESA face-to-face assessment. The second is that Hoban claims that he is evaluating the demand for recordings and that he’ll be doing so until the end of summer 2013. (It will be important for people to respond to these blogs as soon as possible – by the end of August 2013 at the very latest – that being the case).

 Hoban continues to argue that the demand for recordings is not high. Campaigners have argued, rightly, that their surveys

 and calls for information show that people do want recordings – and that demand may well increase if people actually know that they can ask for a recording. Unfortunately – or intentionally – Hoban says that the evaluation of demand will finish at the end of summer. That isn’t far away and doesn’t give anybody much time to find out if the amended documentation (presuming that people are receiving it) is having an effect. The third reason that this is important is that the DWP says it has based its decision NOT to offer recordings for Personal Independence Payment assessments on the ESA experience: “the DWP has not seen evidence from other disability assessments that this would improve the quality of assessments,” Esther McVey told parliament this year. So evidence of the demand for ESA recordings is very relevant to the PIP debate.  The department’s whole approach to recording PIP assessments is a mess – Capita, which has a contract to carry out some of the PIP assessments, originally said it would offer recordings. McVey put a stop to that and said that it wouldn’t. Meanwhile, the DWP was telling journalists that recordings would be offered for PIP assessments. They’re making it up as they go along, so pressure needs to be applied.


The aim should be to get rid of the work capability assessment altogether – but while it’s there, safeguards like recordings of assessments need to be in place. Claimants and campaigners have fought hard for the right to record their face-to-face assessments. As we’ve said, people need to be able to demonstrate beyond doubt what is said at assessments. Atos is notorious for returning fit-for-work reports which ignore a claimant’s true circumstances and the details shared in face-to-face assessments. The ever-increasing number of ESA appeals prove Atos’ problems with accuracy.

Campaigners have won some concessions through their hard work. These include a commitment from the DWP to offer ESA assessment recordings (on “official” dual-CD recording equipment – people still can’t bring their own recording equipment unless it can dual-produce a CD or cassette). The changed paperwork was another concession. Let’s see if they’ve done it and if people are aware of it.

Download DWP Notes Sheet on assessment





Aug 032013

DPAC and Black Triangle condemn the misguided, insensitive and inflammatory comments of Dr Phil Peverley. We also want to condemn the pitch and severity of the pieces in the Mail and Telegraph (2nd August) framing Peverley’s comments, as a further outrageous abuse of the facts and issues affecting disabled people and those with diagnosed long term health issues.


Peverley’s words are an insult to all those that suffer the misery and anxiety of Atos within the regime designed to remove support from disabled people. His words are an insult to those that have died shortly after being declared ‘fit for work’ or before an appeal which found that, once again, Atos were wrong-something that happens with increasing regularly in a system that is chaotic and unworkable.


Those people may also have been within the so-called ‘proportion of punters’ that Peverley claims ‘are hell-bent on trying to prove they’re really ill, and need us [GPS] to confirm it’ or maybe they were some of the perceived ‘disgruntled unworking well’ who are ‘full of indignation at being considered reasonably healthy.’ The Department of Works and Pensions DWP own figures show deaths within 6 weeks of tests were at over 10,000. The DWP are refusing to publish up –to date statistics, so we would guess that these figures have risen significantly.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Black Triangle on the 28th June 2012 the British Medical Association (BMA) supported a call to demand that the WCA should be ended ‘with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause unavoidable harm.’ Peverley on the other hand thinks Atos are doing a great job -despite new evidence everyday that they clearly are not, despite MPs, journalists, and the public accounts committee condemnation of their conduct and the multi-million Atos contract. (See Dr McCartney’s piece in the British Medical Journal and Black Triangles’ 2013 letter of support from Drs and MPS)


Remarkably, Peverley declared that he considered putting a picture of Stephen Hawkings in his surgery with the caption: ‘This bloke is not on the sick!’ The comparison of Hawkings to every single disabled person is beyond bizarre. This is a man with the funds to ensure a network of P.A. support, home adaptations and technical aids- something far out of the reach of the majority of disabled people –where even a basic level of support is becoming increasingly unlikely in the current slash and burn climate. Hawkings won’t miss his ILF payments if the appeal hearing against the DWP doesn’t produce the correct verdict. Hawkings won’t need to worry about local authority cuts or the tsunami of other cuts, caps, punitive costs, sanctions and penalties being imposed on disabled people and other low income people by this Government.

 In Sept 2012 the BMA also said that GPs workloads had massively increased due to the chaotic system of the WCA and increasing numbers of appeals. Peverley also says: ‘’These fitness-to-work assessments – under Atos, and under anyone who takes the role for that matter – generate a massive amount of work in general practice’ in his column in the Pulse. However, neither the Mail nor the Telegraph wanted to pick up on the increased workloads the Atos/WCA system is causing for GPs.  None wanted to mention that people can now be charged up to 200 pounds for GP reports, to support them in an assessment, or that GPs increasingly refuse to supply reports either.- a further hurdle for disabled people and those with debilitating long term health issues in the attempt to gain the support they need in the punitive assessment process.

 The Mail and Telegraph both carried the comments of Peverley. True- they’re both right wing newspapers and tools of Tory propaganda. Yet, the pitch and severity of both pieces in framing Peverley’s comments was a clear abuse of the facts and issues facing disabled people; as are Peverly’s inflammatory comments.

The Telegraph carried the headline: ‘A GP incensed at his surgeries being full of the “disgruntled unworking well” has said he considered displaying a poster of Professor Stephen Hawking along with the caption: “This bloke is not on the sick”’.

While the Mail went that bit further with the more loaded headline:  ‘THIS bloke is not on the sick! Angry GP cites Hawking to shame hordes of patients asking him to sign them off’.

Peverley’s original Pulse piece fits the welfare ‘reform’ agenda perfectly. An agenda that incorporates the right wing media and Governments constant demonising of disabled people as feckless/workshy/scroungers  – Peverley’s original rallying cry in the Pulse was that he did not want to sign ‘sick notes. The piece headlined: ‘Save me from the unworking wellwas posted on the 29th July. Neither the Mail nor the Telegraph showed the same eagerness to publish his jaunty column of 25th April ‘A Curious Case of Missing Sick Notes’ which talks about the constant losing of sick notes by the DWP. But why would they?

Peverley has played into their hands, not only does he appear to support the discredited bio -psychosocial model, beloved of Aylward and Freud, that removes GPs and replaces them with private companies paid with huge amounts of public money- he has given them the final piece of the puzzle –privatise the sick note and remove it from any element of medical evidence. Let’s have 100% ‘fit to work’ even if a 100% drop dead in the process. Those that can afford it, like Hawkings can buy their own private back-up plan’.

In the meantime Peverley has been reported to the GMC. Twitter @gmcuk

There is a facebook campaign group at…

Peverley is on twitter @PhilPeverley

His surgery address for letters is at the link below-please do not use the surgery telephone lines!

Dr Phil Peverley 

Old Forge Surgery
Pallion Park
Sunderland, SR4 6QE

 To Protest against this and the other attacks on disabled people join DPAC’s 7 days of Action

DPAC twitter: @dis_ppl_protest

Black Triangle twitter: @blacktriangle1


Jul 262013

La société Atos Healthcare, filiale d’Atos Origin est chargée par le gouvernement Britannique d’effectuer des contrôles auprès des bénéficiaires d’allocations handicap, dans le but avoué de réduire de 20% ce poste budgétaire au Royaume Uni, tandis que le gouvernement mène sans relâche une campagne de diabolisation des personnes handicapées,  traitées en parasites de la société.

Ces contrôles humiliants auxquels doivent se soumettre les personnes handicapées  ont été condamnés par l’Ordre des Médecins britannique, le RCN qui représente les infirmiers et infirmières dans tout le Royaume Uni , les associations de personnes handicapées; ils ont fait l’objet de multiples débats à la Chambre des députés;  le rapport du Comité des comptes de l’état a également  vigoureusement critiqué les termes du contrat passé avec Atos qui coûte une fortune au contribuable britannique et dernièrement un médecin travaillant pour Atos a démissionné, révélant à la BBC que les dés étaient pipés, que les évaluateurs des capacités au travail, qui utilisent un système de points, se voyaient fixer des objectifs préétablis de radiation, avant même d’effectuer ces contrôles, comme l’ont révélé deux reportages télévisés et que les personnes handicapées étaient injustement privées de leurs allocations, et de ressources financières.

Mais le gouvernement Britannique continue toujours à faire la chasse aux personnes handicapées et à refuser de révéler combien d’entre elles sont décédées après avoir fait appel mais avant qu’un jugement soit rendu, certaines devant attendre parfois plus d’un an pour cela. 1,3 millions de personnes ont fait appel en trois ans, et les statistiques du Ministère de la Justice révèle qu’environ 43% d’entre elles gagnent leur procès. Ce chiffre atteint 80% lorsqu’elles sont représentées par un avocat.   Alors qu’Atos se défend en disant que la décision finale concernant le droit d’une personne handicapée à des allocations handicap est prise par un fonctionnaire sans qualification médicale du Ministère du travail, toujours est-il que les recommandations d’Atos sont suivies à plus de 90%.

Mais derrière les chiffres, se cachent des milliers de tragédies humaines.

Pour reprendre les termes de la médaillée d’or aux Jeux paralympiques Tara Flood, « le scandaleux paradoxe est que le principal sponsor de Londres 2012 [ait étéAtos, celui-là même qui détruit la vie des plus vulnérables pour le compte de l’État ».

Pour de plus amples informations :


Disabled people are furious that Atos has again been appointed Official IT partner of the International Paralympics Committee Athletics World Championships in Lyon


Atos Healthcare, a branch of Atos Origin, holds the British government contract to assess disabled people’s entitlement to disability benefits, with the stated goal of a 20% reduction in costs.

 The humiliating assessments disabled people are subjected to have been condemned by the BMA, the RCN and many other official organisations and bodies which have called for them to be scrapped; there have been numerous debates in the Houses of Parliament about the way Atos carries out assessments; the Public Accounts Committee found that the British public was not getting value for money with the Atos contract. And lately an Atos whistle blower doctor explained to the BBC how the assessments, using a tickbox point scoring questionnaire, deliberately fail disabled people in order to stop their benefits. Two television programmes have also revealed that Atos assessors were given targets as to the number of claimants who should be entitled to disability benefits. 

The British government still refuses to release figures about the number of disabled people who have died while waiting for the outcome of their appeals. Over 1.3 million people have appealed in 3 years, of which, according to Ministry of Justice figures, 43% won their appeals, rising to 80% if they had legal representation. Although Atos’ answer to its critics is to say that the final decision is taken by an employee of the DWP without a medical background, over 90% of Atos recommendations are upheld. 

But behind the figures, a human tragedy is unfolding

As gold medal-winning Paralympian Tara Flood puts it: “It is a shocking irony that Atos is a main sponsor of London (Olympic) 2012 while destroying disabled people’s lives on behalf of the governmen

Jul 222013

But will any ‘improvement’ plan be
just another whitewash?

Of course it will.

Government is just oh so predictable.  People will no doubt be jumping with joy over today’s ministerial statement that Atos is at long last going to be subjected to having to put in place an improvement plan.  You’ve only got to read the small print before you see how yet another corporate global giant will be offering Atos some ‘independent advice’ as to how to go about making the much needed improvements.

The DWP has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers “to provide independent advice in relation to strengthening quality assurance processes across all its health and disability assessments. In addition, and in the longer-term, increased provider capacity will ensure that a greater focus on quality can be achieved alongside enabling the number of assessments the Department requires to be delivered.”


PricewaterhouseCoopers are no strangers to Atos as clarified by an excerpt from yet another Atos glossy leaflet entitled “e-invoicing – speed-up your process – take cost-cutting initiatives”; it’s hardly encouraging that the accent is on even more cost cutting.  The glossy goes on to highlight the close working relationship with Atos Worldline (another Atos derivative) and PWC:

“Atos Worldline studies European and worldwide constraints from a legal and fiscal point of view in collaboration with Price-waterhouse-Coopers Tax Consultants SCCRL office who is the leader studying rules to be applied to e-invoicing and e-archiving at international level. e-invoicing covers fiscal and legal prerequisites in more than 30 countries over the world” 

And as if you couldn’t guess there’s more controversy involving the question of donations to the Tory Party

“The Electoral Commission confirmed that, since Cameron
became Tory leader, PwC has made non-cash
donations worth £545,000 to the
Conservative party in

“staff” and “consultancy services”.

It seems PWC was also called in to sort out a probe in to the death of NHS patients at a cost of £2.7 million pounds according to an article in the Daily Mirror

No doubt PWC will leave aside the need for probing questions in to the deaths of benefit claimants following Atos’s infamous health assessments.

Await the whitewash and clean bill of health to appease the select committee; after which it’ll be business as usual.  Here’s Lord Freud’s ministerial statement:

Written Ministerial Statement


Monday 22 July 2013




New providers to deliver Work Capability Assessments

The Minister for Welfare Reform (Lords) (Lord Freud): The Department for Work and Pensions is committed to continually reviewing and improving the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) process, to ensure that it is as responsive to the needs of claimants as possible. As part of this and to bring down waiting times for claimants, DWP has decided to change its approach to contracting for the WCA, by procuring additional providers on a regional basis. This is in keeping with the Department’s current commercial strategy and will provide increased capacity. These arrangements are likely to be operational from summer 2014.

The WCA process is currently subject to a system of quality assurance and audits by both Atos Healthcare and DWP. A recent DWP audit identified a reduction in the quality of written reports which are produced by Atos following assessments and are then used by the Department to form part of the decision making process on benefit entitlement. This is contractually unacceptable. The Department is considering all its options under the contract and will apply all appropriate contractual remedies to ensure quality and value.

Atos has been instructed by the Department to immediately enact a quality improvement plan. Measures include retraining and re-evaluating all Atos healthcare professionals, with those not meeting the required standard of written reporting either remaining subject to 100% audit until compliant or having their approval to carry out assessments revoked by the Department.

The Department has also engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to provide independent advice in relation to strengthening quality assurance processes across all its health and disability assessments. In addition, and in the longer-term, increased provider capacity will ensure that a greater focus on quality can be achieved alongside enabling the number of assessments the Department requires to be delivered.

Assessment reports, such as those provided by Atos, form only one part of the WCA process, which has a number of checks and balances built in to ensure the right decision is reached for claimants. After the Atos assessment DWP Decision Makers make the final decision on claimants’ benefit entitlement based on all evidence provided during the claim. If the claimant disputes the decision or appeals there is then a reconsideration process where another DWP Decision Maker will reconsider the decision. If the claimant is still unhappy about the decision made, they can appeal. It is important to stress that DWP’s audit activity showed that claimants whose reports did not meet our rigorous quality standard were no more or less likely to have been found fit for work or appeal against the Department’s decision than other claimants.

The Department also remains committed to the ongoing process of annual independent reviews of the WCA. From the three reviews already carried out by Professor Malcolm Harrington, over 50 recommendations have been, or are being, implemented to ensure the WCA is as fair and as accurate as possible. For example, we are currently carrying out an evidence-based review of the WCA descriptors with a number of major charities and we are working closely with the First-tier Tribunal to better understand the reasons for upheld appeals.

A further independent review of the WCA is currently being undertaken by Dr Paul Litchfield, a respected Senior Occupational Physician, and we expect Dr Litchfield to make recommendations before the end of the year to further strengthen the WCA.

The above measures show our commitment to continually improve the assessment, and to take decisive action when it becomes clear that there are issues which need addressing. We will come back to Parliament in the autumn with a further update.

A million thanks to the fantastic Nick at My legal Forum

Follow Nick on twitter: @Mylegalforum

See more here:



Jul 162013

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small)Our rights are being stripped away day by day by the neo-liberal policies being imposed on us all by the Condems leaving us without any hope for our futures or our children’s futures.


DPAC say this is not fair, not acceptable and we must fight back against the continuing attacks. We will be having a week of actions nationally and virtually from August 29th and culminating on September 4th with  mass events and actions in London.


Thursday 29th August – launch on anniversary of coffin delivery to Atos, make Crossrail fully accessible protest, plus more….


Friday 30th August – local protests –go to local MPs, Atos offices, schools and colleges that are creating barriers to more…


Saturday 31st August – disability, art and protest exhibition and gig


Sunday 1st September –
The Social Model In The 21st Century – Why Is It Still relevant?


Monday 2nd September – Media direct actions, picking up the pace as we come to the end of the week of action, despite everything we do it is getting more and more difficult to get media space to present the facts whereas there is plenty of space given to misrepresentation of stats and government lies


Tuesday 3rd September – ‘I Dare’ day – to reinforce that we want Rights not Charity and a society where we are able to operate on our own terms as disabled people.

Approximate time 1pm -2.30pm


Wednesday 4th September – Grand Finale events in London and public launch of the Manifesto ‘Reclaiming our Futures’

noon- 4pm followed by lobby of parliament 5-6pm


We want to get disabled people from around the UK out resisting, based on their experiences, creating disabled people’s space, raising awareness of what we are all about. But there is plenty of social media stuff too- everyone can be an ‘extremist’!


The Anti Atos message last year was very clear and very successful. This year we want the messaging to be broader and to be about what we want and expect from any future government including all aspects of inclusion.


At the Rethinking Disability Policy event last September a network of Disabled People’s Organisations agreed to develop a manifesto of demands. The manifesto is nearly ready for consultation and sign up. Let us know if you’d like a copy.


The Reclaiming Our Futures week will launch the manifesto and say what we want to protect our futures.


Last year’s ATOS GAMES protests had at least 33 separate local protests in different locations in England, Scotland and Wales over the course of the week.


While the Atos Games focused on demonstrating and closing things down, this year’s week of action will retain that anger and include direct action but it will also be a celebration of disability pride.


DPAC has some funding for the week of action and we have worked out what we have the capacity to do. We are asking other groups to think about what they can put on and contribute to the week. This needs all of us!


We are asking people around the UK to do things as well – debates, forums, art exhibitions, protests, to link in with this. Let us know what you’re planning and we’ll publicise it!


If you need help with funding to get to London (4th Sept) email us at with details. DPAC members will get first priority but we’re hoping to be able to contribute to all that want to come along. If you are unable to come but would like your picture carried send us a photo or message. Please get in touch with any other queries as well and we’ll try to help.

more to come…….

May 282013

When I received the initial phone call, from the DWP, I was hopeful that my health would be assessed fairly. I knew nothing of Atos.

I was told that during the process, I would lose no money. That was the first inaccuracy of many to come.

I returned the completed health questionnaire and waited.

Soon after I was summoned to attend a medical assessment at Wolverhampton, to be conducted by a ‘health care professional’ (HCP). This turned out to be the strangest medical I’ve ever gone through. I was asked to squeeze the HCPs fingers; I was asked to squat, and was told that I could use the wall as balance if necessary.

What possible relevance could these exercises hold?

The HCP spent more time looking at the computer monitor than she did in eye to eye contact.

The assessment eventually ended and I left, with a feeling of impending doom.

When I received the decision from the DWP, I was a little shocked, I must be honest. I knew that I could not carry out constant functions over a period of hours. I knew how my symptoms displayed themselves.

I sought help at my local CAB centre and almost at once I felt a sense of relief that I was not on my own.

The CAB advisor spent over twice the time the HCP had done and she came up with a report which clearly explained how my health affected my ability to carry out day to day functions.

There was nothing so profound in the DWP report.

My first appeal, to the DWP, failed as was expected, and I was advised to appeal to the first tier tribunal.

I also contacted my MP, Valerie VAZ, who wrote to the DWP, arguing that the assessment had failed to consider the degenerative nature of my condition, and was therefore flawed.

Soon after I received a phone call from a Decision Maker (DM) at the DWP who, after running through the assessment findings, offered another assessment.

Subsequent I received a new date with Atos.

This was in June 2012.

Between then and May 2013 I attended a handful of appointments, all of which were either cancelled by Atos due to my falling poorly during an assessment or for some administrative reason, such as computer problems.

On one occasion I was conveyed from the assessment centre to the local AE dept., when my BP & Pulse Rate were exceedingly high, and I was experiencing chest pains.

I spent the rest of that day hooked up to a variety of machines in the hospital.

Days later I received another Atos appt., this time for 0900…there was no chance I could make an appt. so early in the morning.

They should have been aware of this. It’s mentioned in my medical notes.

These frequent journeys were taking their toll on my health. My GP was so concerned that he wrote to Atos, explaining and sharing these concerns.

The Atos response was to change my AC venue from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, which is further to travel, and to approve a taxi, for collection and drop off at the attendance centre (AC). I already had a lift too the AC. travel was NOT the issue.

Atos had, for whatever reason, misread or misunderstood the nature of the letter from my GP.

The next appt. was the first taxi journey to the new venue, Birmingham, and my appt. was for 1:15pm.

I rang Atos at 12:30 just to confirm the taxi was booked, and was told it was.

13:15 came and went with no taxi.

The taxi arrived at about 13:25, which meant I was already late.

I arrived at 1355. Almost 45 minutes late.

To add insult to injury, I had pre-arranged to meet my welfare advice rep. at Birmingham. He was not happy either.

Understandable really.

More complaints were submitted to Atos.

This time they responded, eventually, with the offer of a home assessment.

Great news? No!

By the time if my tribunal I had still received no appt. for the Atos doctor to attend my home for the assessment.

My appeal was heard by the First Tier Tribunal and I was successful.

As good as this news is, it must not be seen as a way out for Atos. They caused considerable stress and aggravated my medical conditions for over a year with the catalogue of errors conducted by their staff. Pure and simple.

This would not be tolerated in any walk of life, so why should Atos be permitted to behave in this manner?

Something needs to be done.

I am hopeful that someone reading this will be in a position to offer some advice and support.

I am very sorry for those who are still fighting Atos.

I understand how they feel and I hope that something can be done to help them.

Thank you for reading this.

If any journalists would like to follow up this story please contact

May 252013

Any campaign from this Government which claims to support disabled people should be viewed with suspicion and the latest offering from the DWP is no exception.

The department yesterday put out a press release boasting: “Celebrities have joined forces with the government to help launch a campaign aiming to promote positive role models for disabled people.”

This campaign features a youtube channel where 50 videos have been posted which have “been produced with a focus on overcoming barriers”.  Many of these videos are unsurprisingly about disabled people who have high flying careers, such as Dame Anne Begg, or are stories of disabled entrepreneurs.

The accompanying press release includes a gushing quote from Emmerdale actor Kitty McGeever explaining how after becoming disabled it ‘took some time to get back into work’ but she managed it with the help of the Government’s Access To Work scheme.

This scheme provides funding for workplace adaptations, travel or some care needs for disabled people in employment.  The number of people benefiting from Access To Work has plummeted by over a third since this Government weren’t elected showing the true situation for disabled people currently seeking employment.

Whilst this campaign may be a cheap attempt to improve those figures, it comes against a background of savage cuts to benefits, services and housing for disabled people.  It is a campaign run by a government which is declaring hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people to be ‘fit for work’ with the aim of stopping their benefits.  A government which has been only too happy to force sick and disabled claimants onto workfare as part of the Work Programme –  with no public scrutiny of where they are being sent or for how long.  A government that is set to force potentially hundreds of thousands of disabled people from their homes due to the bedroom tax, benefit cap and other measures.

And when Personal Independence Payments (PIP) fully replace Disability Living Allowance, this is a Government which will have slashed completely a vital benefit for 20% of disabled people.

This move alone is likely to mean that over 50% of disabled people are forced to leave work as funding for specialist equipment, care and transport disappears*.

Vast numbers of disabled people are set to be plunged into poverty by these measures, and it is this which reveals the true intentions of this latest DWP run project.  One of the charities involved in the campaign is quoted as saying that the “project is about showing what disabled people can do – not what they can’t”.

This is eerily similar to David Cameron’s line when interviewed shortly after the opening of the Paralympic games when he said: “It’s about the inspiration and it will change people’s minds and that’s what matters. It’ll teach people about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do.”

It is also the line used to justify the benefit-stripping Work Capability Assessment which according to the DWP focuses on “what an individual can do despite their health condition, rather than simply what they can’t.”

Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Esther Mcvey also pops up in this week’s press release, and whilst not quite so explicit, her underlying message is the same:  “young disabled people tell me they want to see more inspiring role models to show where disabled people have achieved their ambitions despite the odds being stacked against them”

For young disabled people the odds are stacked against them like never before due to this Government and in this context the true nature of the DWP’s latest campaign becomes clear.  This is not about providing role models for young disabled people or helping people fulfil their potential or even changing perceptions of disabled people as is claimed.  This Government doesn’t care about any of that.  This campaign is yet more insidious DWP propaganda attempting to give the impression that those plunged into poverty due to the ruthless cuts to disability benefits will only have themselves to blame.  If only they’d learnt to play wheelchair rugby, or been a fucking Dame, then they could afford to put the heating on.

The campaign also has a facebook page which might be a good place to share experiences of what people can no longer do due to the vicious cuts to benefits:

Dawn Willis writes well about this kind of narrative: ‘I’m not Stephen Fry, how damaging is that?’ from Dawn

*this figure comes from a survey carried out by Disability Rights UK (DRUK) which reported that 56% of those asked said they would have to leave work if they lost their DLA.  DRUK are notoriously in the pockets of the DWP, with Chief Executive Liz Sayce writing a report which recommended the closure of the Remploy factories.  The survey relating to the number of people likely to leave work due to PIP seems to have disappeared from DRUK’s website, for which there is surely an entirely innocent explanation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

With massive thanks to the brilliant Johnny Void for letting us re-post

See more from Johnny at


May 172013

Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions’ much criticised work capability assessments for Employment Support Allowance continue to present a never ending saga of misery, disbelief and despair.

A recent post on the False Economy blog talks of meetings to try and discover mental function champions (MFCs). These are claimed to exist but so far none have been produced or found that adequately satisfies that burning question of where MFCs are or what exactly they do .

In addition, both the BMA and more recently, the RCN have voted to stop the process of Atos assessments, due to the harm they are causing.

On Thursday the 16th of May, Dr Greg Wood an Atos worker told most of us what we already know: Atos assessments are biased. He decided to resign and go public despite having signed a confidentially agreement with Atos, something they put in place after nurse Joyce Drummond also went public and said of her role at Atos:

‘‘I apologise from the bottom of my heart to all those people I had to assess during my five months in the job but the decisions were out of my hands. Once I realised how manipulative the assessment system was, I got out immediately. The stress of it all made me ill and I have not worked since.”

In January 2013 another nurse who worked with Atos told Atos Victims Group :

“I could not live with the knowledge of what I was doing and the effect this could have on somebody’s life.   Although there are a number of people who are more than capable of work, the majority are genuine, sick people who need our help, not to be demoralised in this way.  I saw so many people who would cry in front of me, because they want to work so much, but couldn’t”. 

Now Greg Wood tells the Guardian, if Atos assessors: “show deviation from the official line they are instructed to change the report. In about a quarter of assessments important documentary evidence such as the claimant’s own GP assessment is missing but the assessments go ahead regardless.”

Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions trot out the same lines in response: can anyone in the UK believe them at all? Apparently, everyone is lying but them.

Not only are these assessments supposed to be joy on earth, they are claimed to be backed by a mysterious force called a mental function champion. False Economy say:

“In 2011, Atos introduced Mental Function Champions into the ESA work capability process to “improve” assessments for people with mental health problems. A group of us have spent six months trying to find out exactly how this MFC role works, if MFCs have “improved” work capability assessments for people with mental health problems and if anyone at Atos or the DWP can prove that the role has had any impact for people who must go through WCAs.

We’ve had very little luck. We did manage to get a meeting with Atos, someone who said he was an MFC and the DWP on the topic, but that was not particularly satisfactory, as you’ll see:

For months now, mental health service users and campaigners from the voluntary sector consortium group Mental Health Northeast (MHNE), Newcastle user-led mental health support group Launchpad and False Economy have been trying find out more about the work done by Atos Mental Function Champions”.

Read more at False Economy

 update: apparently Dr Wood may have been an MFC but as he has now left- if  anyone has had any other sightings or knowledge of an MFC we’d be interested in hearing about it






May 052013

Herald View

THE misery that the UK welfare reforms have caused disabled people has been highlighted often by this paper.

But that makes the cases cited by doctors today in the Sunday Herald no less shocking. They are proof this system has failed.

There is the patient with schizophrenia who believed he was the Messiah, yet was declared fit to work. There is the man who suffered a stroke and had lung cancer but was too scared to go to hospital in case he missed a benefits appointment, fearing he would be at risk of losing his money.

There are examples of patients with mental health problems left so distraught at being told they are fit to work they have become suicidal.

This is not a system, this is a cruel disgrace. These examples hardly fit with the picture painted by the Westminster government of the “workshy” living it up at the taxpayer’s expense.

While Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith preaches of tackling welfare dependency, it is doctors who are witnessing the impact of his “reforms”.

This is placing a burden on the NHS – a situation which is expected to get worse as more welfare changes are introduced.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Alex Neil have warned there is an “intolerable strain” on care services and urged Duncan Smith to ensure there is a “fair, equitable” process that gets decisions right first time. This must be introduced to ensure benefit claimants and the NHS do not continue to be the victims of a flawed system.

The Herald Scotland

See also

Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability assessments ~ Letter Posted on May 5, 2013 

Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability tribunals Posted on May 5, 2013

Welfare reforms not fit to work ~ Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability tests Posted on May 5, 2013

with thanks to Black Triangle


May 052013

The Dail Fail published the above 4th May as the ‘workshy’ map

The NOT fit for work Map above by Nick @Mylegalforum publised 5th May

The difference between propaganda and truth in the Atos/DWP war

See the full story on the Fail map at

See more from the brilliant Nick at

May 012013

The latest Work Capability Assessment figures released by the DWP yesterday (30th May 2013) attracted little of the usual fanfare which usually sounds as they trumpet the results. Perhaps they’re getting nervous with an increasing number of rebuttals over their use of statistics appearing in the press of late?

Or perhaps on this occasion they simply didn’t have too much which they wanted to shout about?

I think it’s a mixture of both.

Amongst other things the DWP’s latest Quarterly figure release’ for June – August 2012 reveals:

52% of new Employment & Support Allowance were entitled to the allowance after assessment

73% of claimants having undergone conversion from their incapacity benefit claims had qualified for Employment & Support Allowance with 38% ending up in the Work Related Activity group and 35% in the Support Group.

It’s all a far cry from the days when not so longer ago the media fuelled almost certainly by the DWP were saying 75% of claimants were skivers.

Closed claims

After being heavily criticised in a number of media articles over drawing unsubstantiated conclusions as to why 878,300 (A figure which in itself was wrong) claimants had closed their claims before being assessed, the DWP appears to mitigate its incorrect assumptions by drawing a reference to a further report ‘Unsuccessful Employment and Support Allowance claims – qualitative research. I’d encourage those following the reassessment programme to give it a close read, not least because it was prepared some time ago back in 2011 and relates to findings drawn from a survey across only 952 individuals and a further sample of just 60 claimants. It’s a meagre number of claimants upon which to draw any conclusions when looking at the many thousands who have, for a variety of unknown reasons, closed their claims prior to being assessed.

The report concludes

“An important reason why ESA claims in this sample were withdrawn or closed before they were fully assessed
was because the person recovered and either returned to work, or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their

Before accepting the conclusion, I’d look at the report and the sample size of those surveyed.

What’s missing?

A complete reference to any of the results of the claimants who have been assessed following their initial assessment is missing from the report although the information is to be found in the tables.  These are often omitted but should be included.  If you look at the accompanying tables which the report if linked to you you will see that there is a total case load of no less than 958,300 from which 340,300 claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group since October 2008, far fewer are found fit for work in the group with 215,100 from October 2008 to August 2012.  Both of these groups will have a propensity to appeal, some claimants may for instance at the initial assessment have been placed in the Support Group but after being assessed again may be put in the Work Related Activity Group – creating a number who will appeal.

Of these assessed in the ‘reassessed following initial assessment’ group, 78% were entitled to ESA in June, 79% in July and 79% in August 2012 – a sizeable increase when compared with the 73% cumulative total relating to the entire period from October 2008 to August 2012.  I fail to understand why so little attention is drawn to a cohort of close to a million claimants who have been ‘repeat’ assessed in this group since the programme started .

The quarterly comparison 

When comparing the overall figures for all three cohorts (new claims, claims reassessed following initial claim and ib/ESA conversions) between May 2012 and August 2012

To date total

Increase/decrease on figure to May 2012 

Per month average over quarter

Numbers assessed WCA




Work Related
Activity Group placements




Support Group




Fit for work findings




Closed claims before assessment




Cases still in progress




Overall case load




Case load

What these figures, taken across ALL claimants involved in the assessment programme, show is that the DWP ‘case load’ increased by 485,100 over the period from June 2012 to August 2012.  The case load isn’t the number of claimants, it is the number of claim interventions made by DWP officials as part of their case load, it can be divided in to cases where an outcome has been recorded in which case the claimant will be placed in the Support Group, Work Related Activity Group or found ‘Fit for Work’.

Of the cases which have not been assessed, the claimant’s case can ‘still be in progress’ (this is not the same as the assessment phase data) or could be closed without assessment.

With usual thanks to the brilliant Nick of My Legal twitter @Mylegalforum

For a detailed breakdown up to August 2012 see Nick’s detailed work at

Apr 162013

If you missed it all -the Disability Action Alliance or DAA[i] has had a strange and tortured beginning. It was set up in 2012 to help with the new disability strategy. The merged organisation of RADAR, Disability Alliance and the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) AKA Disability Rights UK (DRUK) got the’ job’ of co-organising the DAA. This was a great surprise to all, not least the United Kingdom Disabled Peoples’ Council (UKDPC). The great surprise was that this ‘job’ hadn’t been advertised or put out for tender. After initial rumbles of shock and discontent DRUK said that they would not be paid for this ‘job’ so it didn’t matter, or words to that effect -and we all forgot about it.

Another issue was that this Alliance would include charities, presumably big disability charities as well as small ones, and private companies or corporations. This caused more rumbles of shock and discontent because some of us had been taught and still believed that any ‘disability movement’ was about disabled people leading it, was user-led and rights not charity based, we weren’t sure how to deal with this astounding corporate thing being added on either.  DRUK said DAA would be advising on government policy and would not supplant the role of disabled peoples’ organisations so it didn’t matter, or words to that effect -and we all forgot about it.

Then there was a flash new website called unsurprisingly: Disability Action Alliance. At the link if you want to have a look or join

A site with pictures, a bit government branded in style, but what can we expect.  The ‘About us’ section says:

During the development of Fulfilling Potential – Next Steps, the idea of a new way of working in partnership emerged and ODI agreed to set up the Disability Action Alliance.  Disability Rights UK agreed to convene the Alliance to ensure ‘nothing about us without us’ – so that disabled people’s voices and experiences drive change, locally and nationally.

The ODI or Office of Disability Issues (an adjunct to the DWP) also set up a network called the ‘Network of Networks’ in 2010 so that disabled peoples’ voices could drive change, locally and nationally’ with a pure base of 12 user-led disabled peoples’ organizations, which they then disbanded, unceremoniously, shortly after the development of Fulfilling Potential.  So the ‘nothing about us without us’ does ring a bit hollow, especially with the potential corporate business and big disability charities in the ‘us’ bit.

Maybe a more apt chant would be ‘something about us without us again’ led by Government departments, sorry ‘disabled peoples’ voices’

Alliance Declaration and Membership Agreement

There was some more shock and discontent over the DAA ‘membership agreement’ on the web site. For example the section states members must:

‘Respect the views of other members, and not represent their views unless they are given permission’

It is unclear what this means exactly, but it doesn’t sound particularly empowering to disabled peoples’ voices. Does it mean that a group cannot represent another groups views ‘unless they are given permission’? or that they cannot represent their own views? It all seems a bit defeatist to us. Also included is that members must:

‘Protect the integrity of the Alliance and not bring it into disrepute’

Again, what does this mean? Why would any group want to bring the alliance into disrepute? And what is the ‘protect’ element about?

We also see members must: ‘Not campaign or lobby in the name of the Alliance (this would not affect whether members campaign or lobby on behalf of their own organisations)’

Oh well, that’s good then and…in the spirit of incorporating others into the new world order, members must:

‘Identify existing groups/alliances/networks who may already be acting and could be engaged’

Already be acting….?

Anyway, the drive for members of the quango, sorry, new exciting network of disabled peoples’ voices was launched and anyone could join up, presumably providing they could understand exactly what the Alliance declaration and membership agreement actually meant. At the time of writing there are 102 members. As we seem to have waited so long to find out who they are let’s see if our anticipation has paid off…

Members of DAA so Far….

Members include some disability type organisations, plus: the Department for Works and Pensions, the Department of Climate and Energy Change and presumably the ODI. Also Lloyds bank is there and big charity Shaw Trust. There are a number of companies but no big names such as Atos or Capita which is reassuring, for the moment anyway; a couple of DIAL’s (taken over by SCOPE a few years ago), a regional unison, and a local council.

For those who filled out or took part in completing the consultation on the disability strategy (Fulfilling Potential), the outcome of the DAA is all slightly surreal. There we were with our disabled voices trying to affect change and here we are with a hotchpotch of unforeseen organisations who are going to talk about it-providing they get ‘permission to represent’ their? Our? the DWPs? Views-oh who really knows anything about what’s going on with this anymore?

There was more surreal stuff to come when the TUC Disabled Workers Committee were approached by the government to join the Alliance- eh? –‘approached by the government’ must have been some kind of an elongated typo on the TUC website there…but anyway they said no. Why did they say no?

TUC Disabled Workers Committee says no to DAA

According to a piece in Disability News Service and on the TUC website: the TUC disabled workers committee were approached by the Government-OK-so not an elongated typo- to join the DAA. They said no. According to the TUC web site, they said no because:

Disabled trade unionists feel very strongly that joining the DAA – an organisation recently set up by the Office for Disability issues to encourage groups representing disabled people to work together – would restrict the TUC’s ability to campaign against government policies that are affecting disabled people.

Representing disabled people? Does Lloyds bank really represent disabled peoples’ views or do the DWP or those other government departments?

No, we didn’t think so either. But Sean McGovern (chair of disabled workers committee) gets to the heart of the matter and maybe to the focus of the real disability strategy when he says:

The government has been attacking the living standards of disabled people for almost three years now and things are getting worse.

Unions are working with disabled people against these brutal and inhumane cuts, and are campaigning against the government’s unnecessary and damaging austerity drive.

The ATOS work capability assessments, the closure of the independent living fund, the switch from disability living allowance to the personal independent payment, and the bedroom tax – every single one of these changes is punishing and impoverishing disabled people and their families.

Joining this government-inspired alliance now would be to pretend that none of this is happening.

We want to see all disabled people and the organisations that represent them continuing to oppose government policy and not conned into becoming part of the problem rather than part of the solution.’

And this is exactly where any growth of a real disabled peoples’ led disability action alliance must be focused for anyone aware of what is really happening to disabled people under this government and its disability strategy

 You can join up at

We already have over 12,000 members and supporters, and not a government department in sight. You know it makes sense.

[i] Not to be confused with Disability Awareness in Action a user-led organisation

Mar 262013

Benefit appeals are on the rise….

Sickness benefit appeals up by 70%….

‘Chaos is looming’

Latest statistics from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) reveal that the DWP’s increasingly controversial Employment & Support Allowance is leading to a massive surge in the numbers of appeals lodged with independent Tribunals.  The Ministry of Justice figures can be read here and confirm that for the period July to September 2012 the number of appeals was up by 69% on the same quarter on the previous year.  Benefit appeals are now accounting for 58% of all cases received for appeals across all Tribunals – an alarming increase.

The Ministry of Justice figures exhibits all the signs of impending chaos with a staggering 813,500 tribunal cases in total; an increase on the previous year when the number had already exceeded three quarters of a million appeal cases.

The number of Employment & Support Allowance appeal receipts is of particular concern, in the year 2011/2012 a total of 181,000 appeals were received by the Tribunals. In the first six months of 2012/2013 the figure has shot up to 133,700 indicating that these appeals alone are well on track to exceed a quarter of a million by year end.

42% of DWP decisions in ESA cases are wrong!

By comparison with the second quarter of 2009/2010 when Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) appeal receipts stood at 29,000 – the same quarter in 2012/2013 has zoomed up to 73,700 – an increase of 44,700.  Of the 53,200 ESA cases cleared at an appeal hearing 22,500 (42%) were found in favour of the claimant.  These figures highlight ongoing problems with the standards of decision – making following Atos ‘Work Capability Assessments’ – the DWP is still making an unacceptably large number of incorrect decisions.  

Total number of benefit appeals now on track to exceed 600,000 by the end of the year!

The total number of benefit appeal cases for 2012/2013 has already reached a wholly unacceptable figure of 308,200 meaning that if the trend continues, and there is every sign it will, the total number of benefit appeals alone will have reached well over 600,000 by the end of the year.

Cases outstanding (all) – 813,800  – chaos!

The total number of benefit appeal case ‘outstanding’ in 2008/2009 was 53,200 in the second quarter and has now more than trebled to 158,700 in the second quarter of 2012/2013.  A comparison with the figures for 2007/2008 when the figure stood at 347,100 shows the numbers have increased to a colossal 813,800 in 2012/2013. the number of employment tribunal cases outstanding as of the second quarter stands at 570,200, benefit cases stand at 158,700 in 2012/2013 and immigration & asylum cases at 41,000 – this is absolute chaos!

Exceeding the warnings given by the judiciary….

In a report issued in February 2012 provided by the Tribunal president  the judiciary gave the following breakdown of benefit appeal cases in the first – tier Tribunal and made the following predictions for increases in the appeal load:

Annual Intake of SSCS Appeals

2008-09 – 242,800

2009-10 – 339,200

2010-11 – 418,500


2011-12 – 421,609

2012-13 – 483,400

2013-14 – 576,700

2014-15 – 644,000

These latest figures show we are well on track to break past the 483,400 forecast for 2012/2013 and exceed the figure given for 2013/2014.  

The full effect of welfare reform changes has yet to hit the fan, the bedroom tax, more ESA cases, JSA sanctions (standing at 700,000), Disability Living Allowance giving way to Personal Independence Payments are all in the line up and will undoubtedly lead to the Tribunal president’s forecast being considerably exceeded.

Government and the DWP has to stop pretending that there is not a perfect storm brewing here, mandatory revision before appeal is only keeping the dispute out of the public’s attention in a pretence that the people who create the problems will somehow fix it.  The DWP is assessing twice as many ESA claimants as it needs to just to claim double its dubious ‘results’.  In reality the vast majority of those who flow off ESA and incapacity benefits are flowing straight back on to them shortly afterwards – government has no other credible explanation as to why after assessing over 2.8 million claimants between 2008 and 2012 the claimant count has barely reduced by little more than 70,000 – it’s derisory and half that achieved by way of reductions under the older incapacity benefits regime.  

The fact is that we were seeing much better reductions under the older incapacity benefits.  Government is using severely disabled claimants to manipulate its figures by its recycling of what can only be the same claimants.  It stands to reason that if vast numbers were really being ‘found fit for work’ the Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant count would have rocketed up to an embarrassingly high level which this government simply cannot afford to show.  

After coming off ESA claimants are being re-directed back on to it by Jobcentres who can clearly see these claimants are no where near ready for the labour markets.

Government’s mismanagement of the ESA reassessment programme:

There’s any number of statistical charts on here which you can muse over all day long.  

In doing so just apply the logic:

(1) We start with 2.6 million on the sick in 2008

(2) Various claims are made by the DWP/media of 75%, 50% and more recently 33% being found ‘fit for work’ 

(3) In 2012 we have 488,000 claimants waiting to be assessed

(4) In 2012 we have a Jobseeker’s Allowance queue that’s hardly grown

(5) By 2012 – 2.7 million have been subjected to Work Capability Assessments

(6) By 2012 – 3.8 million is the total number ‘case loaded’ through ESA

(7) By 2012 we are on track to break all previous appeal records with more hidden from view at the DWP

(8) In 2012 there are twice as many claiming on the sick as there were in 2006 

(9) By 2012 the claimant count for those on the sick has trickled down by a mere 70K, still leaving us with…. 

                              Around 2.6 million ‘on the sick’? 

(10) This wretched scheme is rapidly emerging as an absolute farce which is being used as a vehicle to keep the long term sick numbers down; thus keeping them from the long term ‘economically inactive’ count used by the ONS to work out the numbers said to unemployed. 

They have engineered themselves a clever way of marshalling the unemployment figure to one which is more ‘commensurate’ with the chancellor’s increasingly doubtful claims that we are ‘on the way’ to economic growth.  

With everlasting thanks to the brilliant Nick-

Twitter: @Mylegalforum

See more from Nick at and below
See ESA Customer’s journey to nowhere

See the ‘journey in to work’

See a discrepancy uncovered

See unemployment is ‘falling’

See turning back the long term incapacity clock to zero

Mar 102013
  Time for your ESA assessment?

Not for 78,000 claimants
– waiting over a year!

Only the other week we had the DWP recklessly fuelling the tabloids over its absurd claims that 15,000 Disability claimants (most of whom were pensioners and children) were seemingly breaking a leg to get their claims in before the dreaded new Personal Capability Assessment comes in to being this April for new claiments; the DWP neglected to make sure the media told everyone how the figures they were quoting were months out of date!

When challenged over the figures the DWP advocate that you should ‘dig deep’ and look beyond their damaging headlines.  When you do so it’s interesting to see what you turf up – the utterly chaotic Employment & Support Allowance ‘reassessment of the sick’ programme goes from bad to worse as it is revealed (upon digging deeper in to their figures) that thousands upon thousands of claimants remain ‘stuck’ in what the DWP term the ‘assessment phase’ of an allowance which seems to be getting its claimants no support at all in to employment.  

Read more about the DWP’s ‘customer journey to nowhere’  The DWP’s most up to date figures for May 2012 (the figures for August 2012 are apparently ‘delayed’) show that an astonishing 455,860 claimants are either waiting for their Work Capability Assessment to be completed or waiting for an appeal against a decision they believe to be wrong.  What is totally unacceptable is how a programme which is meant to be helping people back to work is seeing no less than 77,820 claimants waiting a year or more for their assessment or appeal to lead to any kind of proper decision! – in nearly 30,000 cases it’s over 2 years!

This is nothing short of a National outrage which the mainstream media have a duty to publish.

Here’s the official DWP figures…. 

Assessment Phase  


Up to 3 months 

3 to 6 months 

6 months to 1 year  

1 to 2 years

2 to 5 years

May 2012







February 2012







Change (+/-) +31,390 

– 8,290

+ 14,250

+ 16,450

+ 4,300

+ 4,970


DWPs ESA Process in Chaos?

You can check them against the official DWP tables here….

DWP figures for May 2012

DWP figures for February 2012

With thanks to the brilliant Nick at Mylegal for more from Nick see

Twitter: @Mylegalforum

Feb 252013

DPAC has been passed a letter from Ed on WCA/Atos which we’ve been asked to share. While reading please remember that it was New Labour that first contracted Atos and Ed has done some visits to them too- no, not  joining DPAC, or disabled  people in  protests outside Atos offices in direct actions against the 72 deaths a week of those being put through this inhuman regime. But as a kind of badly advised PR exercise. He seems to have stopped that now.

The letter says:

              ‘We appreciate and share the concerns that have been expressed by many charities, disability groups and health care professionals regarding the WCA …’

Would these be the same multi-million big disability charities that sat at the table with Atos in the working groups on the construction of the WCA we wonder? And is Ed really talking about HCPs here? Ed’s  letter continues:

             ‘….and we agree that the government need to move quickly to remedy the problems. A large number of charities and disabled people have reported serious shortcomings with the assessment process and there is clear evidence that the WCA is not working….’

A slight understatement? Then there’s a bit of a disclaimer about previous New Labour government and what they intended for the WCA which was for it to work with applicants ‘fairly, quickly and compassionately’ with ‘appropriate support’.  Ah so no plans to scrap this inhumane disaster and start looking at it all again then? Back to Ed:

           ‘…It is clear, however, that the current Government have been too slow to adapt the Work Capability Assessment in the light of experience, and in view of the much bigger job it is now being asked to do…’

Actually they have been adapting it, mobilising distance for example has been reduced several times to make even more difficult to score those elusive Atos points removing more people from any support. Then we have a paragraph on Professor Malcolm Harrison’s independent reports and lack of progress. Let’s also remember Prof Harrison was sacked/resigned/came to the end of his appointment, apparently after appearing on Panorama citing the disaster of the WCA and Atos. But moving on:

       ‘…We would like to see the Government move much faster-for example in acting on the recommendations made by charities on dealing with mental health problems and fluctuating conditions-and to reduce the current bureaucracy of the current system. Atos healthcare also have questions to answer about the effectiveness of the current assessment process…’

        ‘..We are also very concerned that the scale of the cuts to disability benefits and social care introduced by this Government-which will total 8.6 billion over the parliament-will have a very serious impact on many disabled people..’

Isn’t it over 9 billion?

     ‘…Mr Miliband and the Shadow Frontbench will continue to press the Government on the need to put right the serious problems with the WCA…’

Cheers Ed and let us add that the work of Labour’s John McDonnell, Michael Meacher and others in bringing this Atos horror and the links between Atos and Unum in running ‘Government’ from the inside are much appreciated.

You can download the full letter from link below

Feb 232013

 Please also read below from the brilliant Kate Belgrave with many thanks to Kate for allowing us to repost-see more from Kate at

On November 5, Mark Hoban told parliament that “we have introduced a mental health champion in every single assessment centre throughout the country.”

He absolutely had not.

Why cant we find out more about Atos mental health function Champions?
 Update Thursday 14 February 2013: Atos has been in contact and discussions are underway to set up a meeting. Interesting. They reckon they sent an email to a generic email address of one group on the list and made a phone call a week or so ago – a fairly half-hearted attempt to set up a meeting if you ask me, but at least we’re underway. Ish. I want to know what this role really does, or doesn’t, do for people with mental health problems who must go through WCAs. I’ve seen plenty of examples of the problems WCAs cause people and more needs to be known about this MFC role – the role that was created to, purportedly, improve WCAs for people with mental health problems. More soon.


For several months now, as readers of this site will know, a group of Newcastle mental health service users and support workers and I have been asking Atos to agree to set a meeting up between us and Atos’ work capability assessment mental function champions. (Mental function champions do not advise or support claimants: they provide advice and coaching to Atos healthcare professionals).

I’m posting this article to let you know that despite repeated assurances from Atos that our meeting will be organised, it hasn’t been. Atos keeps saying it’ll set a meeting up for us, but never does. We call Atos and we email Atos and they say they’ll get right onto it. They don’t. So we call Atos and email Atos and they say they’ll get right onto it. They don’t. So, we got in contact with Atos again about a fortnight ago and were assured that a call would be made and a meeting would be set up. Nothing’s happened. It has occured to us that Atos doesn’t want us to meet with mental function champions. Or something. We’re sure that they’re there, etc. We just want to see them and find out more about the “role.”

Mental function champions are the individuals Malcolm Harrington suggested that Atos added to the work capability assessment process to “spread best practice amongst Atos healthcare professionals in mental, intellectual and cognitive disabilities,” whatever that means. Last year, the DWP told me that 60 of these MFCs were in place (I suppose we take that as written for now) and that they largely worked a phone advice line. Mark Hoban went somewhere else with it, into territory that may best be described as make-believe: on November 5, he told parliament that “we have introduced a mental health champion in every single assessment centre throughout the country.” The DWP rowed back on that and admitted that there wasn’t a mental function champion in every single assessment centre in the country. There were/are 60, apparently, and they’re mostly on the phone. The DWP didn’t much want to talk about that: its officers told me to contact Atos for more on MFCs. And as I say – pinning Atos down on the details has been a struggle.

In his first-year review of work capability assessments, Harrington observed that concerns had been raised about Atos assessors’ knowledge and understanding of mental health conditions. “The short training course in mental health that Atos assessors receive is proving nowhere near adequate to allow them to accurately assess applicants,” MIND said in the review.

I’d take it a good few steps further than that. Complaints and concerns about the appalling effects of WCAs on people with mental health problems are, as I’ve written before, widespread and well-documented: work capability assessments and descriptors for disability benefits place too much emphasis on basic physical readiness for work, do not account for the fluctuating nature of some mental health illnesses and assume that everyone is always in a position to offer a detailed picture of their circumstances. Once found fit for work, people’s benefits are cut, they must appeal or apply for jobseekers’ allowance, they can fall behind on their rent and bills and their mental health really begins to deteriorate, as this doctor will tell you. I have witnessed some of this myself, having attended work capability assessments with people who have mental health problems and followed them as they have gone through the stressful appeals process. Stephen, a 54-year-old man with schizophrenia who was one of those people, got a zero-points score in his initial WCA assessment, but was placed in the ESA support group on appeal – a monumental turnaround by the DWP that made everyone involved wonder at the criteria. Claimants with mental health problems have sought recourse in court: last month, the courts heard a case which, if won, will put the onus on the DWP to make sure medical evidence from practitioners is sourced from the start of the ESA application process for people who have mental health problems.

Those issues being very much the case, it is understandable that people with mental health problems and their supporters want to know how the MFC role works. Meeting with champions and asking them about their daily role seemed as good an approach to this as any. It certainly seemed a better approach than asking Atos directly, given the thin results that has yielded.

I asked Atos to explain exactly who MFCs are and the skills they bring to WCAs. Atos’ response was short on specifics: the company had, apparently, “invited leading external experts in mental health to help shape the role for the mental function champions,” and the champions “work alongside our healthcare professionals, supporting them in a range of different ways.” The word “alongside” could be considered a stretch – as we’ve seen, the DWP said that MFCs advise Atos HCPs down a phone (“telephone-based support” Atos calls it). Details of the “different ways” support was provided were not forthcoming in the response I received. I received this instead: “Our mental function champions are selected for the role because they have considerable expertise within the mental function field. They may already have higher training or a higher qualification in the field of psychiatry or have experience working in Mental Health, Learning Disability or Cognitive Impairment.” Presumably, the word “may” there means that some may not. There’s an awful lot of Maybe going on here.

Anyway. People want to meet with MFCs because they want to know more about the “role” and see it in action. It’s important. It’s very important. The MFC role is, it could be said, to be the main means by which concerns about WCAs and mental health problems have been “addressed” (ahem) to date. So – people need specifics. They need to know how, on a day-to-day basis, the role “spreads best practice” so that it improves WCAs for people going through them – assuming that is what is does. As I’ve observed – the jury’s out on that one. Things are too difficult for people going through WCAs for this topic to be left at a few press statements from Atos. I know we’re not the only people who are interested, too. I’m also pretty sure that Atos doesn’t want us to be.

Feb 102013

The Public Accounts Committee this week published their report on the Work Capability Assessment and criticised the Department for Work and Pensions for their handling of the contract with Atos, for allowing them a monopoly and for being complacent about the numbers of wrong decisions.

See the reports through Black Triangle’s website:

BBC news and Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Committee speaking:

DPACers speaking to the media this week about the WCA:

John Smith and Kevin Watts were on Radio BBC Northampton:  (about 1 hour 6 mins into the programme):

Channel 4 were going to do a story but horse meat knocked it off the running order.

Jan 162013


DPAC Press Release 

WCA Descriptors fail, DWP fails, Atos fails.  

Does any part of Work Capability Assessment actually work?

A recent case has come to light which proves beyond doubt, as many people suspected, that:

 -the Work Capability Assessment is a complete shambles,

 -the WCA Descriptors are completely inadequate at assessing fitness for work,

-the Descriptors fail miserably to capture a person’s level of disability,

-the Descriptors fail to predict the long term prognosis of a disabled or a sick person,

-the DWP and Atos over-reliance on these descriptors explain the number of successful appeals against Fit to Work decisions.

 It is unimaginable that the DWP and Atos are unaware of these failings, however they continue to give more weight to WCA Descriptors than to Professional Medical Evidence.

 In the following case, and many other cases, judgement based on Medical Evidence is the only solid basis for robust, fair and reliable assessment of a level of disability.

 It is also the only solid basis for predictability of ability to return  to work. This is  clearly illustrated by Charles’ story (shown below).

 Finally the asinine crudeness and sheer stupidity of what the DWP have the impudence to call a ‘medical report’ is shown by a copy of Charles’ report (attached).
If there is a case to illustrate the inadequacy and the irrelevance of  using Descriptors for WCA assessment, it is this.

 If there is a case to show the casual and irresponsible attitude of the Department of Work and Pensions towards Sick and Disabled benefit Claimants, it is this.

 If there is a case to show that Atos computer based assessments are not fit for purpose, it is this.

 How much longer will this rotten system be allowed to continue to fail Sick and Disabled people within our Society?


Here is Charles’ Story:

 Charles stopped work after contracting a serious viral infection in July 2009 and was also diagnosed as having ME in November 2009. He claimed ESA in June 2010.

 In 2011 he had an Atos WCA assessment, which found him fit to work but after appeal he was put in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).

 He was placed again in the WRAG after a second assessment in January 2012, although he felt he should be in the Support Group, but was too ill to appeal the decision. 

A few months later, in April 2012, he was diagnosed as having Leukaemia and a degenerative dysfunction of the spinal cord.

 Following this, on several occasions he contacted the Benefits Office to request to be put in the Support Group, but received no direct response.

 In April 2012, his ESA was stopped because his savings exceeded the threshold but in August 2012 he notified the Benefits Office that that was no longer the case and sent a letter in September to explain his financial situation.

 He did not receive any response, and he was still not receiving any benefits, although in September 2012, he was sent another ESA50 form to complete.

 In September 2012, he requested a copy of the report from his last ATOS assessment from January 2012.

 Although he did not receive this report despite a further request, a few days later he received a Medical Report dated mid 2012, which until then he did not know existed, having never met the ‘author’ of the Report, a Registered Nurse and Approved  Disability Analyst.

 Reading the report, Charles was astonished to discover that although the nurse who reviewed the medical evidence stated explicitly that he was unlikely to return to work the medical evidence did not score any points for him against the descriptors.

 As Charles has been too unwell to return to work, it seems that the nurse’s judgement, based on the medical evidence presented to her, was right, and that the descriptors were unable to capture Charles’ level of disability and his long term prognosis.

 This fact was recognised by the nurse who wrote that if Charles was called to Board he would score above the threshold but that there was insufficient evidence that he met the LCWRA descriptors.

 But because the DWP decided that more weight should be given to the descriptors than the medical evidence, the nurse’s recommendations were disregarded, although ultimately they were correct.

 Charles pursued the matter, with assistance, and the decision not to place him in the Support Group was reversed in November 2012, backdated to February 2012


 the link takes you to  a copy of the Medical Report for Charles’ case (reproduced with his permission), clearly showing that the Descriptors give Charles a clean bill of health, while in reality he is completely unfit for work.

 For further information, please contact Annie Howard

 ESA report form 


Jan 112013

Many Disability Benefits Claimants will have noticed on their ESA85 form a box containing the words “Harmful information – not to be copied to the client”.

 Some will have understood this as being information which would be “likely to cause serious harm to the physical or mental health or condition of the patient or any other persons”, and in the context of consent to treatment, the GMC states:

 “You should not withhold information necessary for decision making unless you judge that disclosure … would cause the patient serious harm. In this context serious harm does not mean the patient would become upset, or decide to refuse treatment.”

 Or if they checked the contract between Atos and DWP, they would learn that harmful information “means information unknown to the Claimant which if disclosed to him may be harmful to his health”. And because “harmful information” is quite vague, in 2011 the DWP issued further guidance in the WCA handbook:

Harmful information: This is information which has not been disclosed to the claimant by their medical attendant, and of which they are unaware.  It is information which would be considered as seriously harmful to their health if divulged to them and is the only type of information which under the regulations may be withheld from the claimant in the event of a review or appeal.  Examples are details of:

­ Malignancy

­ Progressive neurological conditions

­ Major mental illness.

Revised WCA Handbook

ESA (LCW/LCWRA) Amendment

Regulations 2011

 What claimants might not have envisaged is that this “Harmful Information” box could be used as a means to covertly influence decision makers or the tribunal appeals service by prejudicing a case.

 Because of one DWP employee’s mistake or stupidity, one claimant who obtained his report was able to see what “harmful information” means for Atos and the DWP:

 Client very obnoxious, sarcastic and complained about the assessment format and the typical day. He stated that they are not relevant and asked that I contacted his Consultant. Claimant very unco-operative and makes the assessment very difficult. He kept taking his medication throughout the assessment”. 

 Underneath these comments, a DWP employee wrote:

When bundle of evidence is back from photocopying, please add this sheet to the submission for the TAS – DO NOT send to customer!


 Harmful? Well unless being obnoxious and sarcastic are to be considered as a major mental illness, these comments amount to a subjective judgement, seen by the claimant’s lawyer as libellous.

 But the comments are certainly harmful and would have had, as the claimant believes, a bearing on the outcome of his case (he scored 0 points), and because of fears of what this could do to his reputation and professional standing, on the advice of his lawyer, he decided not to appeal. Had he done so, these comments would still have been withheld from him and his lawyer, in accordance with DWP guidelines.

 For this to happen, both the Atos HP and the DWP employee would have had to disregard the DWP guidelines, and it would also have escaped the scrutiny of any report auditors. This seems too much of a coincidence, (although incompetence in the case of the DWP and Atos can never be ruled out).

 What are the implications?

1)    It seems that the DWP, with the complicity of Atos, has found a way to circumvent the law it is supposed to uphold and to use it against the interests of people the DPA is supposed to protect

 2)    No claimant can be sure of what is contained in a report, if there is a parallel report which is withheld from claimants

 3)    Claimants and legal counsels go to appeals without access to all the evidence

 4)    The system is geared to trick claimants and cannot be described as fair, transparent or accountable.




Jan 102013

Next week sees 2 disabled people take on the government in a judicial review (1) on the grounds that the process is not accessible for people with mental health conditions.
On 15th, 16th & 18th of January lawyers for 2 members of the mental health resistance network
(2) will be in the administrative high court, the division of the royal courts of justice (3) which handles judicial reviews , in London .
The DWP introduced WCAs to assess disabled people for eligibility for disability benefits. Despite criticism from MPs,(4) the British Medical Association (5) and campaigners, this policy rumbles on.
Dozens of disabled people are dying every week (6) following assessment. nearly 40% (7) of those who appeal the decision to remove benefits, have the decision overturned, meaning thousands of people are wrongly being put through a traumatic and harrowing experience needlessly. The governments own appointed assessor of the policy has ruled it ‘unfit for purpose’ .
This isn’t good enough. This would not be acceptable in any other government contract, yet goes without comment or sanction by this government. No-one is called to account, no-one takes responsibility.
DPAC and MHRN call on ALL activists and supporters to join them in a vigil outside the court to show your support for those taking the case, and your disgust at this shameful and harmful policy.
Action is :
Weds 16th January
@ 12pm
Royal courts of justice, the strand, London wc2a 2ll.
Send a strong, clear signal to those who make the decisions.
We are NOT going away, we are not backing down. There is no hiding place.
We will fight you in parliament, on the streets and in the courts!
p.s send messages of support to or

Jan 062013
The Co-Op have said that their new occupational health contract starts in March and that the bidding process for the new contract has already begun. The Co-Op have refused to publicly rule out a bid from Atos. Tendering processes are generally geared towards awarding the contract to the lowest bidder. If the Co-Op were going to make their decision based on ethical concerns, which they have said will be a factor, they would have already publicly rejected a bid from Atos. Atos’s unethical behaviour has already been well documented in the mainstream media and Disabled People Against Cuts have compiled a list of Atos’s unethical behaviour for the Co-Op. Pickets with calls for boycotts and communication blockades and the resulting damage to a company’s reputation does have a significant economic impact and has been shown to work with other campaigns. The Co-Op is particularly vulnerable to such tactics as their ethical image is their unique selling point in their part of the market.Hundreds of people have already complained about the contract on TheCo-operative Facebook page:
and by tweeting @TheCo-operative:

Why not join them and tell the Co-Op that you will stop shopping at their supermarkets or that you will close your Co-Op bank account unless they publicly state they will not be renewing their contact with Atos? 

You can also email or contact Chris Mills, their Ethical Policy Manager:
Telephone: 0161 827 6160
Mobile: 07921 893 949
Facsimile: 01618276230
Up to 5 free faxes can be sent from this website:
Perhaps you could fax them the gift of a file of a classic book, many of which are available to download for free online.


Some background information:

It has recently been discovered that the Co-Op Bank and group of companies have had a 4 year occupational health contract with Atos and that the contract is due for renewal. Atos make huge profits carrying out work capability assessments on sick and disabled people on behalf of the Government. As was exposed by a Channel 4 documentary they automatically pass 7 out of 8 people as fit for work – to comply with Government targets for benefit cuts. Their decisions are not based on objective medical opinion. Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland have received 24,000 complaints about Atos. CAB win 80% of appeals against Atos finding people fit for work. The Daily Record reported on a Government survey that showed half of those found fit for work by Atos end up destitute.

The Government are cutting benefits as part of their austerity measures aimed mainly at the poor, while those responsible for the public debt continue to get richer. Despite the media headlines about one or two bankers losing their bonuses, generally bankers’ bonuses and those of company directors continue to grow. Sales in luxury goods are also rising. Nearly 50,000 new property millionaires were created in the UK in 2012. £2 billion of cuts in housing benefit and child tax credit where announced in the chancellor’s autumn statement, while £3 billion of cuts in corporation tax was announced in the same statement.

The Co-Op sells itself as an ethical company, but what ethical standards are they maintaining by not publicly ruling out awarding a new contract that gives millions to a company that cuts the benefits of sick and disabled people?

Claimants Resisting Unfair Treatment, Cuts and

Supported by 
Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World!/pages/Clydeside-IWW/216550781713688

Glasgow Solidarity Federation!/pages/Glasgow-Solidarity-Federation/237568036376381

Jan 052013

With thanks to Kevin and Steve. Please share, tweet spread as far and wide as possible

© by Robins/Clark

If you would like to know more about DPAC or make a contribution to our work please visit our website or email: or twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest *Special thanks to Rob Livingstone for some of the excellent artwork contribution on this video.

Con-Dem Love!

They’re screwing up my mind , wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got a real obsession , egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love ,
Condemn .. … Con-Dem love.

Laid my cards on the table told their GP straight
Depressions biting hard and that’s hard to take
I showed him the scars on my arms where I’d cut
He looked me in the eye and said you’re “working fit”

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

On a circle of emotion on the treadmill again
They took away my social, can’t pay the rent
What can do, so ill, I can’t fight,
I toss and turn I stay awake all night
Darkened thoughts are haunting me
I’m so afraid of this reality

This is Con-Dem love , Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

Sitting in a corner — with the lights switched off
This no win situation’s lost
Can’t make no plans for you or for me
There’s no reason to go on you see .

This is Con-Dem love , Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.
They’re going to show you what they’re made of

They’re screwing up my mind, wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got real obsession, egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

They’re screwing up my mind , taking away my life x 3

© by Robins/Clark

Jan 032013

Campaign of the year ….the fightback by disabled people as the Con/Dem Govt stripped some of the most ‘vulnerable’ sections of the community of their benefits. Their campaign against Atos (who made the decisions) during the Paralympics was inspiring and they have led the way in the fightback against the Con/Dem Govt.

cropped-Black-Triangle-web-banner-1 atos

Disabled People Against Cuts’ message for 2013: DPAC will not be resting in any tents in 2013 but fighting with disabled people in the courts, on the streets, online and everywhere we can

DPAC wants to thank lipstick socialist readers who voted and urge you to take a look at the other awards for 2012 and the lipstick socialist site here

Dec 302012

Earlier this year DPAC highlighted Worcester Council’s ‘maximum expenditure’ policy which would see new applicants for social ‘care’ be part of potential institutionalisation in order to cut costs. Other council’s have announced similiar measures.  The Redditch Standard reports on the case, which shows that disabled people do not need to put up with these measures in silence but have the right and need to fight back at local and national levels. This month the closure of the Independent Living Fund was announced for 2015. This will also be challenged legally by six ILF users early next year. Both measures break aticle 19 on independent living as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. There will also be legal challenges on the recording of Atos assessments and the Judicial Review on the Work Capability Assessment by the Mental Health Resistance network in 2013.

Details of the Worcester case by Irwin Mitchell can be found here

DPAC will not be resting in any tents in 2013 but fighting with disabled people in the courts, on the streets, online and everywhere we can