Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Why Atos is unfit to work - a round up of recent news stories

On the same day that Atos has announced that only 7% of claimants are not able to do any kind of work, the government has accepted that its drive to retest benefit claimants was a flawed process.

MPs accept that Atos’s Work Capacity Assessment causes anxiety among the disabled people who undergo the tests, and that large numbers of people believe their test results to be wrong. Of course disabled people already knew that, but it’s good to have this officially recognised.

There was also criticism that the positive aspects of helping people back to work has not been emphasised, leading to those who are able to do some work being stigmatised as “workshy” or a “benefit scrounger”.

Atos says that only 7% of claimants were unable to work at all, but the figures show that 36% of people dropped out of the process (perhaps they had a short-term illness that got better, or even were so scared by the application process that they decided to withdraw – I know of people who were so angry by the injustice of the test and the way they were treated that they decided they would find a way to manage without benefits without going through it again). And 1% of applications were still in progress.

So in fact, of the 63% of applications where a disabled person was assessed and we know the result, 11% were deemed unable to work. That’s another way of looking at it, but Atos always seek to give the lower figure, the one which makes them look as though they are purging as many disabled people as possible from the benefits system.

There are many things wrong with the system, as we know. For example, Atos overbooked appointment slots, then marked some people as failing to attend and their benefits were stopped.

Most shocking is the story of Larry Newman. He had a degenerative lung condition when he was assessed by Atos, with problems walking and breathing. He was awarded no points in the assessment, meaning he was fit to work. “His widow, Sylvia Newman, recalls that one of the last things he said to her, as doctors put him on a ventilator, was: "It's a good job I'm fit for work." He was trying to make her laugh, she says, but it was also a reflection of how upset he had been by the conclusion of the medical test.”

His widow has highlighted 12 inconsistencies in Atos’s report, some of which were simply not true – claiming he was unaccompanied, and had no scars on his chest (they didn’t look!)

You can read more of Larry’s sad story here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/24/atos-case-study-larry-newman

It seems that almost every day another story is released demonstrating why Atos is itself unfit to work.


  1. I'm one of the 36% that hasn't renewed the claim due to the assessment. I went down to attend and got as far as the door of the place. However, I was so ill that the anxiety became overwhelming. Living solely on my DLA at Mid Rate being £275 per month. I am basically dieing now. Not being able to afford food nor clothing since a year past April. Out of those assumptions regarding the 36% that their illness is temporalily is beyond beleif. DWP and Atos has our names and addresses and they have done nothing to bring about an inquiry. How many more have been left in this way????????

    I got a letter back in May the 3rd stating that my benefits would be reinstated and back dated to the 26 February that's 11 months of main source income that I've lost out on with the accumalation of a whole years debt it's going to take numerous years to get back on my feet. I only wish i had the strength now to end my live and each day each moment that comes along I do seek for that strength. Despite receiving that letter on 3rd of May it's now 26th july and still no monies have been placed into my bank account. I can't even go out now as even the sole on my foot wear is at a level that there is basically nothing there to walk upon. I know myself that Shortly I will be placed back in hospital as I've not been able to get food stuff of proper nutritional values.

  2. How is characterising everyone on benefits as workshy scroungers supposed to help them get employed? Are employers advertising for the feckless and the irresponsible now? If they were advertising for the simply confused, some might suggest government ministers could easily fit the bill!


  3. I think the strangest thing that Atos does is to get evidence from existing medical professionals dealing with the claimant then completely ignore the reports that have been requested. Surely if two separate professionals deem someone unfit for work an Atos interview is a waste of public money? In the case of mental health issues you have the problem that you are assessed as you present that day, in the case of bi-polar (manic depression as was) that can make the process completely irrelevant and highly subjective.

  4. Anonymous, I'm so sorry to hear you are in that situation. Are there any food banks near you, so that you can carry on eating properly? It might also be worth calling homelessness outreach places - you don't have to be homeless for "soup kitchens" to feed you. Although I think it would be best if you make contact directly to see if anyone knows of the place closest to you, or if a volunteer can deliver. Not being able to afford clothes is one thing, not being able to eat is another...

    This website has info including "find your nearest food bank" http://www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-projects

    Sorry if this is slightly off topic but I'm just trying to think of suggestions which might provide immediate help; of course, it's appalling that you are in that situation.

    Please keep fighting and looking for help, with whatever energy you can muster.

  5. just gutted and angry yesterday my wife lost her appeal for DLA.after waiting a year our hopes were dashed yesterday at the appeal court.my wife cant walk unless she has support from m-self nedds help getting out of bed in and out of a bath ,she needs carried down stairs as she cant support her self .cant lift anything heavier than a carton of milk.my wife has ostio arthrites in her lower back and spinal stonosis in her neck two displaced discs in the neck and two displased discs in the lower back .im angry as people out there are getting all these benefits and are fit for work.i would love to go back to work but cant get help for my wife as she needs looking after all day if im at work so im very angry