Disabled People United Sheffield, supported by Sheffield Green Party, Justice for All, Disabled People Against the Cuts and Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance, protested in Hartshead Square outside the Sheffield offices of Atos, the French company that holds the government contract to carry out work capability assessments on disabled people. There has been widespread outcry against the underhand and cruel working practices of Atos which lead to many cases of hardship and heartache.
“My partner died last week of kidney cancer. He was diagnosed a year ago and at Christmas was told he had about four months to live. In the spring he was summoned for a work capability assessment (by this time he had two brain tumours) and found fit for work.”
Atos decisions are not only catastrophically insensitive, they are also extremely inefficient. Over 40% of decisions are appealed, and almost 40% of those appeals are upheld.
As if that wasn’t enough, there are about 30 Atos centres not on the ground floor, making wheelchair access difficult. About 95 centres have no dedicated parking, and of those that do, only one has disabled parking spaces, leaving those called to interview a difficult journey from car to offices.
At their Annual Conference held in Sheffield, The Green Party called on the Coalition Government to sack Atos, and todays protest carried on that theme.
Spokesperson Peter Garbutt commented : “The three main political parties have sought to demonise disabled people as lazy and workshy. Today is all about supporting vulnerable people stressed and worried about losing their benefits. Our action aims to publicise the uncaring way in which the organisation carries out work capability assessments on people with disabilities and health problems.”