Thursday, 14 April 2011

Daily Mail Glasgow offices invaded by Anti-Benefit Cuts Protesters

This afternoon around 15 Anti-Benefit Cuts held a leafleting session outside the Atos assessment centre in Cadogan Street, Glasgow advising other claimants on how to deal with benefits medical examinations. It was part of the 3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts being held in at least a dozen cities around Britian organised by a network of claimants' groups. Members of the Crutch Collective, the SWP, SSP and others held up banners and placards declaring that Atos robs from the poor to give to the rich, while IWW songs played in the background. The Work Capability Assessments carried out by Atos have been heavily criticised by CAB, the Child Poverty Action Group and others as being unfair and not based on medical opinion. The process is driven by the government trying to cut 2.5 billion from Employment Support Allowance to pay for the public debt caused by the banks gambling on the financial markets. Those going in for the assessments appreciated what was being done.

Luckily the Glasgow offices of the Daily Mail were just around the corner at 20 Waterloo Street. A number of protesters walked past security on the ground floor and went to offices on the first floor where the Daily Mail staff were kind enough to let them in. All the journalists there were told to stop telling lies about disabled people. They were handed leaflets that stated that the Daily Mail has led the propaganda against the most vulnerable in society, making attacks on benefits for sick and disabled people possible. Despite aggressive, threatening and inappropriate behaviour from some of the journalists the protesters left peacefully having made their point. Metro journalists in the adjoining office were keen to differentiate themselves from the Daily Mail. The protest continued outside where passing members of the public showed their support. The police were called, but there were no arrests.

Photos to follow.

Full text of Daily Mail leaflet:
Daily Mail:
Stop the lies about Disabled people

Disabled people, people with illnesses, parents, people on low wages, unemployed people, carers and others demand an end to the defamation by the Daily Mail of people who need benefits to survive.

This protest takes place as part of the third national day of action against benefit cuts. The aim is to challenge the legitimacy of the Westminster 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!”

The Daily Mail has led the propaganda against the most vulnerable in society, making attacks on benefits for sick and disabled people possible

The Day of Action has been called by networks of claimants' groups around Britain, including the Crutch Collective in Glasgow. The first two days of protest against benefit cuts have seen demonstrations, meetings, unemployed discos, public pantomimes and occupations in cities across Britain. 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.

Protests are taking place in 12 cities across Britain, and include an online action for those not able to travel by the 'Armchair Army'.

Since 1st 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].

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

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

Tuesday, 12 April 2011



Atos Healthcare are a part of a private, profit-driven corporation. On behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), they carry out the medical assessments now called the 'Work Capability Assessments (WCA).

They are currently recruiting more staff to help meet government targets to force more people off benefits. The Governemnt plans to cut £2.5 billion from ESA and to limit ESA benefit to just one year - presumably those who are deemed unable to work will have made a miraculous recovery.

The process is driven by cost cutting not objective medical opinion. The Government are doing this to reduce the massive public debt caused by the banks gambling on the financial markets. The most vulnerable in society are being made to pay for the greedy failures of the rich and the inevitable booms and busts of capitalist economics.

The majority of people tested and told they are undeserving win their cases on appeal. Studies have shown the medical test to be largely unreliable:

An independent review of the WCA tests by Professor Harrington concluded “There is strong evidence that the system can be impersonal and mechanistic, that the process lacks transparency and that a lack of communication between the various parties involved contributes to poor decision making and a high rate of appeals.” and that “evidence has consistently and regularly highlighted problems with each stage of the WCA process, which limit both the assessment’s fairness and effectiveness.”

There are plans to extend these distressing and anxiety inducing tests to those relying on Disability Living Allowance (soon to be Personal Independence Payments) to cut the budget for DLA/PIP by 20%.

The tests have already been strongly criticised by Citizens Advice Bureau, 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... Doctors pay more attention to the computer than the client."

Citizens Advice Scotland is extremely concerned that many clients are being found fit for work in their WCA despite often having severe illnesses and/or disabilities. 
Their evidence has highlighted the cases of many clients with serious health conditions who have been found fit for work, including those with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, bipolar disorder, heart failure, strokes, severe depression, and agoraphobia.

In a recent government report, Atos’s own staff say the assessments are too harsh. Prospect, the trade union who represents 135 Atos doctors, has stated that the target of seeing ten or more people a day is unrealistic and will lead to wrong assessments, especially in complex cases.

ATOS claim that they do not make the decision as to whether someone can work and have their benefits reduced, but that the decision is made by the DWP from their report and that performance targets are based simply on the number of claimants seen in a day. However, they admit that if a medical professional passes all claimants for disability benefits it will not go unnoticed.

The Jobcentre Plus Decision Makers do not in practice make decisions, but instead they typically ‘rubber stamp’ the advice provided through the Atos assessment. They often do not have or do not appropriately consider additional evidence submitted to support a claim for [ESA]. This results in the Atos assessment driving the whole process, rather than being seen in its proper context as part of the process.”, Professor Harrington.

Despite a fraud rate of just 1%, plus £16 billion in unclaimed benefits, the Government are determined to toss 500,000 people who currently rely on sickness benefits into the bleakest labour market in a generation and to cut already meagre disability benefits to starvation levels.

Medical professionals, including physiotherapists, with no experience of mental health problems, for example, are given a matter of days training before making assessments of claimants. Atos doctors are paid a fee of over £100 for each ESA medical they carry out. Many people report that the doctor seemed in a rush, stayed only a very short time and wasn’t interested in what they had to say. Some found the doctor positively rude. Atos are also undermining the NHS by paying way over the NHS rates for doctors and nurses on full time contracts.

Atos has a contract to carry out compulsory work programmes, meaning they will get paid for getting disabled people back into work. This is an incentive for them to fail people's claims: a clear conflict of interest. The most damning fact about the system is that Atos will get £500m over 7 years for running the Work Capability Assessments, while fraud in ESA over this period could be around £250m: the tests claimed to stop fraud cost twice as much as the fraud. Thus the only way Atos can offer value for money is if they cut £250m off the ESA case load – so there is indeed an implicit target.

Monday, 11 April 2011

3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts April 14th Glasgow


G2 7AB

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Anti-Benefit Cuts Activity This Week Glasgow


G2 7AB

Followed at 3pm by group planning meeting for National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts on April 14th at:

The Free Hetherington
The Glasgow University Occupation
13 University Gardens
Just off University Avenue,
Glasgow University Campus

Rescheduled Public Meeting:
Sunday 10th April, 7pm
@ The Free Hetherington
Mental Illness, Discrimination, the Benefits System and Direct Action
The new benefits cuts and reforms proposed by the coalition government are expected to hit claimants with mental illness especially hard. With the medical assessment and the new benefits being phased in, many people with ‘Invisible Illnesses’’ will fail to qualify. This presentation and discussion will explore these pressing issues along with the wider context of discrimination and stigma that create barriers to employment and social exclusion. What can we do about cuts to disability benefits?