Commons debate on Atos now likely next month

This week I sought an early debate on the appalling injustices of the Atos work capability assessments from the Commons backbench business committee. I’m very pleased that the committee has told me that “it is keen to see a debate on this issue, and so hopes to allocate time in January 2013″.

I hope therefore in the next month to be able to collect the fullest dossier I can not only of examples where the system has patently failed, but also of statements of how the system should be reformed, not only in technical application but radically. It is perfectly clear that though the first two Harrington reviews may have produced some minor improvements in procedure, the fundamentals of the system remain intact, indefensible though they are.

There is still an urgent need for a much more profound, and whollly independent, inquiry into the principle of forcing people off benefit or drastically cutting benefit at a time of near-record unemployment on the grounds that despite intense disabilities they can still find work.

The latest DWP figures show that 145,000 out of 431,100 Incapacity Benefit claimants – a third – whose assessments were completed between October 2010 and February 2012 were found fit to work. Since the total number of persons on Incapacity Benefit was 1.5 million, this suggests that if the same pattern of results continues, the total found fit to work will be about 500,000, including 140,000 who have been claiming Incapacity Benefit for more than 10 years.

It means that their benefit will be cut, in the case of a single person, from £100 a week to £71, and they will be continually pressured to get work as happens to all persons on job seeker’s allowance, even though there are now on average 8 persons chasing every vacancy and as many as 20 in some areas of the country.

I have been sent an excellent critique of the failings and harshness of the present system by a resistance group appropriately named on their website as , and it ends with the following quotation which is so fitting I repeat it again. “When my constituent, who has lost his job because he has motor neurone disease, scores zero on his WCA and is found fully fit to work, there is something wrong with the system.

When that same constituent appears in front of a tribunal and in less than 5 minutes is awarded 15 points, there is something wrong with the system….When someone with a severe illness has to fight for a year through an appeal to get the correct benefit, only to be called in almost immediately for another assessment, there is something wrong with the system”. I think this coming debate will show that these experiences are widespread and that the call folr reform is irresistible.

  1. Labour DO have an idea of fairness. The Atos assessments are entirely designed to remove claimants’ benefit. They have nothing to do with either “medical” considerations, nor are they about the well being of the sick and disabled.

    Dr Steven Bick exposed the targets : 7 out of 8 of us to lose benefit. That’s BEFORE we get to the WCA. Those targets were written into Atos’s contract, when the Coalition renewed it. THAT needs to be addressed.

    There are no jobs, we are in a recession ( some are calling it a depression). How can this government justify imposing workfare on those deemed to ill to work ( ESA Claimants in the WRAG) and threaten to sanction those who cannot participate on this indefinite slave labour deal by removing the bulk of their benefits, and for up to 3 years. People are already dying. Benefits are calculated to meet basic human requirements : food, fuel and shelter. Nothing more. If people can no longer meet these fundamental needs, they die. That’s a fact.

    This government is justifying the deaths of potentially thousands more, and “Robert” comes alomg and has a swipe at labour. Priceless! My jaw dropped

  2. Labour needs to start reminding people of Maslow’s hierarchy : if people are fighting for basic survival – meeting needs like food fuel and shelter, then it wont be possible for them to be “incentivised” to do anything else but fight for their lives – including looking for a none exising job.

    Not that this Govt is being honest about the reasons for welfare reform: it’s plainly nothing to do with supporting people back into work – Remploy closures demonstrate this, and the fact that people in work are also going to be hit very hard by the cuts highlights the “make work pay” lie

    . This is about tory ideology and the dismantling of our welfare provision. You can’t punish people into none existing jobs Mr Cameron. We know you are a liar.

  3. Ms Jones , thanks for giving me a laugh it was well worth reading.

    Lets see Miliband…. I knocked on a door a person answered who was disabled, it was obvious to me that he could work at something.

    I went next door to a hard working person, he told me…..

    Ok Mr Miliband what was wrong with him what was his illness, why did you not ask him, how is it you can tell an illness by looking at him why go next door to ask.

    Labour is the party of the squeezed Middle and the hard working.

    I went through my ESA medical Ms Jones and won, sadly I going through it again in less then a year, will I win again well I’d not put any bets on it.

    But the fact is the process we are going through was labour, A4e was labour, ATOS was labour, the Scrounger work shy rhetoric was labours.

    What has changed well labour is out of power, and Kitty is annoyed well not me.