Apr 132011
 

For immediate release

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

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

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

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

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

Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against Cuts says:

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

Anne Novis MBE, has issued this call to action:

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

Martin Campbell of London Coalition Against Poverty has said:

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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