ATOS are drinking in the last chance saloon

18th October, 2013 4:08 pm

As some of you know, I’ve spent the past week at home with a bad back, unable to make it into Parliament. I’m very grateful for the get well messages I’ve received, and hope to be back on my feet shortly.

It’s been very frustrating. I was especially sorry not to have been in the chamber when Dennis Skinner told the harrowing story of his constituent, a farmer and butcher who was dying of cancer, who was turned down for benefit following an assessment by ATOS, and waited more than a year hoping his case would be reviewed.

He died before the decision could be reversed.


I met some of my constituents recently who’d experienced the assessment process. They had no faith in it at all. They felt the system was trying to catch them out. They described the difficulties they experienced getting to the assessment centre, a complicated and exhausting journey across town, a long walk across the car park.

Then, because they’d finally made it to the appointment, this was treated as evidence they were fit to work.

They said the ATOS assessor who interviewed them knew nothing about their condition. Those with mental health problems felt they were particularly poorly understood.

They said ATOS was wedded to a tick box approach, the assessors often don’t have expertise in the condition they’re assessing, and too many decisions are wrong and unfair.

ATOS are drinking in the last chance saloon. If they can’t run the process properly and fairly, the government should sack them and appoint a company that can.

But that doesn’t mean the government is let off the hook. That’s where the real responsibility lies. Despite three independent reviews of the work capability assessment process, and a fourth one now underway, the system simply isn’t working as it should.

I believe it was right for Labour to introduce a work capability assessment process that looked at what people could do, not what they couldn’t, and that aimed to get more people who could be working off benefits and into work . But it’s clear that under the Tory-led government, the process is badly broken. That’s why I think we need a root and branch review now to design a system that really works.

We need to think about whether we can we develop an assessment process that looks at people’s real lives, at what they would really need to be able to do to hold down a job, and what support they’d need to do it.

We need to make sure the assessment process is an intrinsic part of the way people are referred to the Work Programme (which is by the way also performing disastrously, with fewer than one in 10 disabled people getting a long term job through the Programme). Right now, the two are totally disconnected, time is wasted when people are referred into the Programme, or they are simply written off by Work Programme providers.

We need to look more at what’s happening to disabled people at work.Why do they earn less, why are they less likely to be promoted, and why do they struggle to get jobs for which they’re well qualified?

Ministers talk tough on claimants, but they won’t take the actions that would really help people get into work. Labour knows we have to fix problems right across the system, to make it fit for purpose, to enable those who can work to work, and to properly look after those who can’t.

That is the way to bring the benefits bill down, and to keep it down. That’s how we’ll be fair to everyone.

Kate Green is the Shadow Disability Minister

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  • Anita Bellows

    That is what happens when disabled people are referred to the work programme

  • Monkey_Bach

    Anybody convinced?

    (Isn’t Kate Green the lady who wrote several articles for this very site bigging up Labour’s proposed contributory revamp of the social security system? Which anyone who could do arithmetic using their fingers could instantly see was a non-runner from the word go and which Rachel Reeves turned away from as soon as she took over the reins at the DWP after Liam Byrne was sacked.)

    Now. Here’s the thing: The problem with ATOS has less to do with bad practice by the company than the very concept of WCA itself. The one-size-fits-all generality of WCA qualifies the assessment irredeemably flawed and totally unfit for purpose. How can any kind of test be fair and impartial when a private profit-making company performing the test is paid a higher fee if/when it produces particular outcomes? As is the assessment simply cannot be improved and should be replaced by a far more sensitive and far-reaching examination based around each individual scrutinised rather than a check-list, points scored, and calculations based on flaky algorithms.


    • treborc1

      In the end all labour can do is sit back and actually back the Tories on this because ATOS is a Tong Blair success story and UNUM Povident

      • JoeDM

        Thanks for reminding us that it is/was a Labour policy and probably will continue after the general election.

        Also, it is interesting to consider that most of the coalitions’ policies are simply extensions of the previous Labour government’s policies.

        • Monkey_Bach

          Sadly completely true but hardly surprising considering that the Conservatives poached David Freud from Labour, ennobled him, and then appointed him unelected Minister for Welfare Reform in the Coalition.


        • treborc1

          I will own up I can work, I know I can, I’ve been going to the job center every single week. I see my disability adviser once a month, the rest of the time they do not want to see you.

          If I go to any of the work providers who are supposed to help me all that happens is they look at the job centers computer.

          I’m disabled and I swear on my children lives this are the job my job center and work provider have sent me for.

          Scaffolder they said maybe you can help doing something, go check, painter decorator you can paint the skirting boards.

          Then I was sent to see if I could be a labourer on a building site, why did they send me to these because that’s all they have.

          Then they changed tack and I was sent down to a shop who was looking for a person to dress mannikins in M&S windows must have 5 years experience, then I was sent down to see if I could be a dental nurse with training and experience, plus the best one of all, they asked me to go up to see if I could be a district nurse, I’m a trained electrician, these are the job we get offered because that is all they have on the computers.

          My mate has one leg missing from the hip and one from the knee, we were both sent down to a firm which was looking for fit healthy young people to be window cleaners, that was basically it I wrote to my MP, and she said to me you never know, really you just never know, hence I’ve now given up voting.

          • ghost whistler

            See here:

            ESA is not solely an out of work benefit, nor is it solely for people that cannot work. It is for people, unemployed or employed, that need support. The clue, after all, is in the title: EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT ALLOWANCE.

            What a pity even Labour forgot all this.

          • Leon Carter

            The reality is they do not understand disabled citizens capabilities at all if they did they certainly would not have closed remploy a wonderful organisation working with able bodied citizens who care and understand.

          • ghost whistler

            ESA isn’t an out of work benefit. Nor is it intended solely for people that cannot. It has been abused for so long by this government. The clue is in it’s name and the evidence is on the dwp website which I cannot link to here.

          • BusyBeeBuzz

            You don’t say whether your disability is physical or invisible or fluctuating. I find it very unlikely that you would be sent for a job as a scaffolder if you have a physical disability and are in a wheelchair.

          • treborc1

            Well calling people liars seems to happen to people who think others are not as disabled as them.

            But being a troll obviously I’m not disabled.

    • Mike Homfray

      I think I agree that the test as it now stands is not feasible

      But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I reject all conditionality – I think it should be based on the view of the medical and other professionals working with that individual, and be relevant to their condition.

      • Monkey_Bach

        Agreed. But any work capability test which sets the bar so low, as far as passing it goes, that terminally ill cancer patients can sail over it and be forced to look for work, or face destitution, has not just got something wrong with it but EVERYTHING wrong with it.


        • treborc1

          . The Labour leader has revealed his intention to appoint Alan Buckle, deputy chairman at accountants KPMG, to investigate how the role and powers of the Low Pay Commission could be extended to strengthen the minimum wage.

          Tell me have a guess whom owns KPMG no it cannot be yes it is ATOS, seems labour love affair carries on.

          • Danny

            Surely you mean KPMG own ATOS? Either way, pretty shocking.

          • treborc1

            The company was formed in 1997 through a merger of two French IT
            companies; and combined with the Dutch-based company Origin B.V. in
            2000, becoming Atos Origin.[8] It subsequently acquired KPMG Consulting in 2002 and SchlumbergerSema in 2004.

  • Kath Howard

    There are still around 5 people chasing every job, much worse in some areas. Employers have a huge choice, especially for low-skill jobs. People with disabilities will never be top of the list. Of course people who could work should be helped to get into work, but we must be realistic and stop blaming people for not having jobs when there aren’t enough to go round.

  • RedMiner

    The problem is an assessment that is based on ‘disability-denial factories’ as operated by Unum in the USA until they were found guilty in a class action lawsuit of denying claims and banned. That didn’t stop the Labour Party taking advice from Unum and introducing the iniquitous WCA. While the Tories have undoubtedly made it worse, it is disingenuous of Kate Green to roll up and blame the current Government for a system that literally can’t distinguish between someone who is fully fit and someone who is dying. Labour designed this system in league with the private insurance industry. The ultimate aim was insurance replacing the Welfare State.

    An apology for the Labour Party’s part in this would be a start. Until then, we’ll take the bland assurances contained in articles like this with a pinch of salt. Labour has done absolutely nothing to demonstrate they would be any less punitive towards vulnerable sick and disabled claimants than the Tories. We don’t have to guess what they’d do, we just have to look at their performance in Government. The ‘monster’ in our midst isn’t Atos, as incompetent as they are, they’re just following orders, the monster is what passes for politicians in modern Britain.

    So don’t think we’re all going to start cheering because after four years you’ve decided maybe those who’ve been screaming about the pain and suffering caused by the WCA might have a point after all. Where have you been for the last four years of horrendous decisions, of the dying being told to do workfare, of severely sick and disabled people being sanctioned, dying in poverty, treated as criminals, hounded and harassed by the DWP, sent on a Kafkaesque appeals process that takes up to a year, only to win, only to be immediately reassessed as ‘fit for work’ and the whole process begun again? Where have you been while people were being demonised by politicians and newspapers and television?

    You take us for simpletons. I’ve been a Labour supporter and voter all my life, but my loyalty is spent, gone. I will exact a price for my future support, and it will be higher than the hopeless disability policies currently being touted by Labour, and it will cost more than a string of platitudes and warm assurances about ‘help’.

    The WCA must go for starters. When you come round to that (as everyone will eventually, the only question being how many bodies must pile up in the street before our politicians discover a conscience) come and talk then.

    In modern Britain, the only ‘help’ the vulnerable get is a helping hand into their graves.

    • Monkey_Bach

      According to this article Labour is still as think as thieves with UNUM.


      • BusyBeeBuzz

        Yes, the UNUM connection is freakish! UNUM being one of the top 10 worst insurance companies in America and specialising in disability. All parties are the same when consider that Labour MPs are working with Tory MPs at the thinktank Reform on how to dismantle the Welfare State and manipulate disabled people into taking out a policy (while in a short term low paid job) with an insurance company who knows how to avoid paying up.

    • pete3867

      Well said Sir. imo the Labor party can go to hell , I have supported them all my life but after having first hand experience of Atos and then learning it was BROUGHT IN BY LABOUR I feel utterly dejected from political life. The assessments are unfair to put it mildly. I have a chronic disease , I am ill about 50-70% of the time so holding down a job for me is impossible , yet I have to sign on every fortnight as Atos said (contrary to my doctor) that I was fit for work ; Last winter I ended up with pneumonia and no money for 6 weeks.. I was constantly passed from pillar to post over the phone , and no one gave a flying fig that I had no electricity money , or food money whilst recovering fron pneumonia as Atos had deemed me fit for work I couldnt even produce a sick note. i was told it was pointless appealing as i ‘only’ scored points on ‘not being able to move 50 yards without severre discomfort .. i have emphysema , and it isnt going to get better . Atos said in their assesment that because I knew about my disease and had ‘eye contact’ this meant even if i couldnt breathe most days it means I failed on all the other discriptors .. .. if you dont know .. ‘descriptors’ are what makes the points .. so if you cannot breathe for instance .. but apart from that ‘your fine’ then you will only get points for that . I basically have infection after infection , this ends up making me extremely tired and run down , but there are no ‘descriptors’ for this type of thing so i dont get ‘points’ . I now live on £70 pw and my rent takes up 30% of that .. despite what Atos say I AM ILL , but the process , to me was so soul destroying that I would rather sign on for jsa , knowing full well that if I got a job i couldnt hold it down …. yep THANKS LABOUR !!!

  • Hamish Dewar

    The appropriate people to do these assessments are the GPs.
    This obvious approach was tarnished by the willingness of some GPs to issue sick notes and disability findings ‘on request’.

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      The people who pressed for the designation of “disabled” were labour and Tory governments seeking to get people off the unemployment figures.

      • treborc1

        Really so are you saying that doctors and consultants worked with Tory and New Labour governments to get down unemployment.

        Every single person who was sent onto welfare actually had something wrong with them.

        My wife has spina Bifida she has worked all her life except one period , she lost her job in 1989, she signed onto JSA but they told her under the new rules for JSA (1983)she would be unable to get this benefits because she was disabled under the criteria for JSA, it’s still the same today and is causing massive problem for people who have disabilities but are fit to work. MY wife then went for a medical and she was told she met all the criteria to be classed as disabled, in the mean time she found her self another job.

        But nobody as Blair said was moved from Unemployment to sickness or disability without actually being disabled or sick.

        It’s an urban myth that people who were not disabled got sickness benefits.

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          OK….try to think. I know it’s difficult but try….you can have a lie down afterwards.
          1. There is no “medical diagnosis” of “disabled.
          2. GPs etc. can make an assessment of a degree of impairment.
          3. The government sets the threshold at which a degree of impairment is considered to constitute “disabled” for the purpose of benefits.
          4. When unemployment increases to the point that it is politically damaging then the “disability threshold” is lowered and magically Bob the unemployed man now becomes Bob the disabled man and the unemployment count falls by one. Labour and Tories did this.

          Bob the long term unemployed man who could probably only get a low paid job is now happy to oblige his political masters by sitting on benefits forever.
          When the government’s priorities change the people they encouraged to register as “disabled” all of a sudden become “scroungers” and they need to “get back to work”.
          Ironically, this turning of the tide usually happens at the point where there are few jobs to go to as the same economic factor driving the government to cut public expenditure on the disabled is the same force causing unemployment.

          Yes there are people who are on disability benefits who could do some kind of work and it is perfectly reasonable to help them to get jobs if they exist. BUT the current hysterical ATOS greed driven “purge of the scroungers” leaves us with a long train of stories of people who cannot work who are being forced off benefits with results which leave us in no doubt that “the Nasty Party” had not gone away… was hiding slyly behind a smile and a photo shoot with Huskies.

          • treborc1

            Obviously you have spent the day in bed never mind

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Slander you scoundrel! I have been digging potatoes …and I have the chips to prove it!

          • treborc1

            Do not burn the house down frying them

          • rekrab

            Wha saw the tattie hawker!

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          OK….try to think. I know it’s difficult but try….you can have a lie down afterwards.
          1. There is no “medical diagnosis” of “disabled.
          2. GPs etc. can make an assessment of a degree of impairment.
          3. The government sets the threshold at which a degree of impairment is considered to constitute “disabled” for the purpose of benefits.
          4. When unemployment increases to the point that it is politically damaging then the “disability threshold” is lowered and magically Bob the unemployed man now becomes Bob the disabled man and the unemployment count falls by one. Labour and Tories did this.

          Bob the long term unemployed man who could probably only get a low paid job is now happy to oblige his political masters by sitting on benefits forever.
          When the government’s priorities change the people they encouraged to register as “disabled” all of a sudden become “scroungers” and they need to “get back to work”.
          Ironically, this turning of the tide usually happens at the point where there are few jobs to go to as the same economic factor driving the government to cut public expenditure on the disabled is the same force causing unemployment.

          Yes there are people who are on disability benefits who could do some kind of work and it is perfectly reasonable to help them to get jobs if they exist. BUT the current hysterical ATOS greed driven “purge of the scroungers” leaves us with a long train of stories of people who cannot work who are being forced off benefits with results which leave us in no doubt that “the Nasty Party” had not gone away… was hiding slyly behind a smile and a photo shoot with Huskies.

    • treborc1

      What you mean the finding to the DWP, well is that not his or her job to confirm to the DWP his or her diagnoses.

      Sick notes are the way it works 32 weeks of sick notes and then a DWP medical that is the way it use to work.

      The simple fact this is cuts plain and simple not even done because of the banking crises but just because Blair believed that everyone lies, unlike him of course.

    • Mike Homfray

      I too think its the job of the GP. I think the problem was that the DWP wanted the GP’s to be stricter than they were prepared to be.
      For example, I know one GP who said that he simply didn’t see how making someone look for work would help them when the chances of them actually finding any work were absolutely nil
      If labour can offer a proper path into work again, then this may not be the case

      • ghost whistler

        Unfoertunately GP’s are just not interested (IME at least). They wash their hands of benefits and people relying on them to the extent they could credibly be described as wilfully ignorant. GP’s need to understand what is happening and should be more involved. Too often claimants – patients – are as abandoned by their GP as they are ATOS

      • PaulHalsall

        My GP would be more or less useless. Thankfully(!) because I have AIDS/HIV I get to see 4 hospital consultants (for HIV, psych issues, gastro issues, and trapped nerve issues). Those letters do persuade ATOS. Meanwhile I had two CAT scans, two colonscopies, two gastroscopies (which revealed a stomach ulcer I had not even suspected, and three ultrasounds of my liver (fatty liver + gallstones). With each consultant you get a 20-30 minute session, and they really help. They just cannot compare to a GPs 7 min sessions.

        But it is hard. The last colonoscopy lasted 30 minutes and I was screaming (they blow air up your ass). It actually felt worse than the two times I have been raped.

        All I can advise to most people is to get to see a hospital consultant. Those letters count more with ATOS.

        • treborc1

          Paul not always I spent £1500 getting my evidence, which was that I had three disc removed from my spine one had gone into my spinal cord causing a bleed into the spinal nerves.
          I have a lesion of the spinal cord at the L5 which caused Bowel and bladder dysfunction, I’ve lost all sexual function and I have chronic pain syndrome.

          I then had MRSA after one spinal operation which nearly killed me I went from 15 stone my rugby playing weight to six stone in less then four months, and then they had to cut me on both legs from my hips to my knee open it up down to the bone to drain the puss, and then used maggots to eat the bead tissue, I can still see the bone of my leg through the paper thin tissue.

          I was found fit enough to go onto WRAG, ok the reviewed it and changed it within four months, but those four months I came oh so close to giving y up and ending it.

          And that’s without the heart attack the stroke and the diabetic attacking my foot which may well have to be removed.

          Some thing is seriously wrong when people like myself are seen fit to work, and my accident was a massive fall, The Health and safety stated my fall and hitting the ground at 98 Miles an hour, I like your self are not cheating yet you swear blind we are.

          • PaulHalsall

            I am so sorry. Damn IDS, and damn James Purnell, and damn Gordan Brown for appointing him.

          • treborc1

            Yep but in the end we are who we are, disabled non disabled we get on with life the best we can.

    • Helen Carroll

      Unfortunately, GP’s have never just dished out sick notes. Its another urban myth. But you have been told by the press so often – you believe its true.

  • Martin

    Several areas need changing. The assessor I got lied and fabricated evidence and I was deemed fit for work, I fought the decision and after a year was eventually agreed to be put in support group. I wrote a letter of complaint to ESA with evidence of the lies and fabrications. The letter was sent to ATOS by ESA, Result nothing done.This is turkeys voting for Christmas scenario This system should have an independent complaint procedure with compensation for those wronged and the resultant ill health due to stress and incomes being cut or removed. Maybe scrapped completely and ATOS and DWP investigated

    • treborc1

      You can actually write to the local government ombudsman who is legally entitled to take this matter forward, although you do have a hell of time finding this information.Please supply me with any practice guidelines or links pertaining to the former.
      What happens with Atos complaints, do they only get to level 1, because in all other agencies or
      other Organisations, complaints can get to stage 2 and 3 as well, and then an independent
      Officer is brought in to investigate, then the Service user has the right to go to the local
      Government Ombudsman,

      In response, DWP and Atos will always reply directly to the requestor, therefore should an MP
      raise a query on your behalf; DWP or Atos will reply directly to them.

      Currently, the Atos complaints process is as follows;

       Original complaint is investigated by a Customer Relations Manager who obtains

      all relevant evidence to inform a balanced and appropriate reply; if deficiencies are
      identified, Atos Healthcare apologise and advise the DWP Decision Maker where this
      may have a bearing on the entitlement decision.

       If a claimant is dissatisfied with the investigation and outcome, the complaint is looked at

      afresh by a senior Atos Healthcare manager who reviews the initial investigation
      and obtains further evidence if appropriate. The outcome is conveyed to the claimant by
      Atos Healthcare Customer Relations Team.

       Following completion of stages 1 and 2: If the claimant remains dissatisfied, they can

      access the Atos Healthcare ‘Independent Tier’ (IT), where the complaint is investigated by
      a third party company independent of both Atos Healthcare and the DWP, where a review
      is made on the complaint handling (administration) . As part of this stage, where
      appropriate, an assessment of the quality of the medical advice is made by an
      independent medical practitioner. All communication with the claimant and the IT is via
      the Convenor who works within Atos Healthcare Customer Relations Team.

      • Martin

        Thanks for that. i shall follow that up and keep going until the ombudsman deals with the complaint

  • RedMiner

    For anyone interested, a few links to blogs/articles on the companies Labour used in welfare reform and the consequences, in one instance for a disabled veteran.

  • treborc1

    Private eye.
    Tory and Labour governments slash the benefits of disabled and sick
    people for years – going right back to Peter Lilley’s social security
    “Incapacity for Work” reforms of 1994. Lilley hired John Le Cascio, then
    vice-president of Unum, to advise on “claims management”. Le Cascio
    also sat on the “medical evaluation group”, which – according to
    Professor Jonathan Rutherford in the academic journal Soundings – was
    set up to design and enforce more stringent medical tests.

    At the same time, the UK wing of Unum was launching what it boasted was
    “a concerted effort to harness the potential” from predicted cuts in
    benefits, urging people to protect themselves with a “long-term
    disability policy from Unum”.

    Prof Rutherford wrote that Unum had also been “building its
    influence” in a variety of ways over a number of years. He said that in
    2001 Le Cascio was a key player at a ground-breaking conference at
    Woodstock near Oxford, titled “Malingering and Illness Deception”.
    Malcolm Wicks, Labour work minister at the time, and Mansel Aylward,
    then chief medical officer at the DWP, were among the 39 delegates.

    In the same year, Unum launched a public private partnership to act
    as a pressure group to extend influence in policymaking. And in 2004 it
    opened the £1.6m UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability
    Research at Cardiff University. (The centre has since been renamed and
    Unum says it no longer provides any funding – no doubt because of claims
    that academic integrity could be called into question by its

    I have a few bits and pieces on what Miliband has stated on welfare, one was I stand behind the system we are using now with ATOS.

    But then when a piece comes out about the public changing it’s mind on welfare, so does Miliband, I know leaders have to keep an eye on the way the public feel but come on.

  • westerby1

    The problem with the work capability assessment is the “closed” questions and the assumptions made from the answers. My friend was asked “do you have a dog” to which she replied “yes” no further questions were asked on the subject. When we read her report the Atos healthcare professional(!) stated that as she had a dog she had no difficulty bending to feed the dog, no problem with upper limbs as she groomed the dog and was able to get out and about and walk 200m as she walked the dog. No problem with that I hear you say, except for one thing, her son takes care of the dog, not her, as she is unable to do so!!

    This is just one question and look at all the assumptions that have (wrongly) been made. Seemingly, she also smiled when she said she had a dog, and what did Atos deduce from that? She is not depressed!!

    Most of the assessors are nurses, not doctors, and they are prompted as to which questions to ask by a computer algorithm, which also has a major part to play in the resulting “medical” report. This is why a lot of the reports do not make any sense and are full of meaningless repetition. A lot of the assessors make errors, miss out vital information, do not give an accurate account of a claimants answers or downright lie!

    I have “failed” 3 assessments with 0 points, appealed each one and won them all with more than enough points to qualify. The whole thing is a shambolic, cruel, time wasting, tax payer funded farce. But Atos are rubbing their hands all the way to the bank.

    • ghost whistler

      “This is just one question and look at all the assumptions that have
      (wrongly) been made. Seemingly, she also smiled when she said she had a
      dog, and what did Atos deduce from that? She is not depressed!!”

      This is a classic, textbook, example of ATOS – and the government. Thinking it will be any different under Labour is baseless. ATOS are simply doing what they are told – finding reason to justify cutting people’s benefits.

      • treborc1

        This is the issue which is wrong that these people who are actually told for example to look at the home is it clean is it tidy does the family look well fed are the people shaven or clean and tidy.

        And that’s the problem PIP’s and DLA will use the points system to get you benefits ESA is about points and then the look of the person.

        Mine said he looked clean he had no issues about his washing and feeding

        • ghost whistler

          As has been said: if you turn up for your appeal you have already failed. After all, if you can attend an appeal you can work – even if you lose the plot during the interview.

          • treborc1

            Then you have to ask why 70% of the people who do turn up pass. and if you do not go to the appeal but let it go through on what is called a paper review or appeal only 40% pass.

            The appeal do not forget is a legal appeal a crown appeal is the same as a court case you get a judge a solicitor and a doctor.

            I’ve gone with three people who could not get anyone to go with them, once I could not get in because they had steps, but actually all three won the claim, one turned up and a letter was waiting for him on a table with his name on it, stating the appeals board had looked at your case and decided in your favour.

            So again like ATOS evidence is vital doctors letter specialist letter all these are then handed to the appeals if it now gets that far.

            Not forgetting now since the DWP have reviewed cases more people are winning

          • ghost whistler

            My mistake. I meant the Work Capability Assessment itself. Not the appeal.

            However, the people who win appeals win at tribunal. The first stage, the reconsideration, is a waste of time as most people get the same result and then have to go to tribunal. It’s a joke.

            Don’t forget that the government is changing (or has already done so) this: if you wish to appeal you first have to wait for a reconsideration. During this period, which has no set time limit, you are not entitled to ESA at all. Thus you either claim JSA and deal with all that entails, possibly conceding your ESA claim (their desired outcome), or you go without entirely for an unspecified period of time, possibly months.

            This is not the last chance saloon, it is outright cruelty.

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  • ghost whistler

    And here, again, is why Labour haven’t a clue.

    You introduced these villains.

    You introduced David Fraud.

    And here you are saying that the right thing to do is have a test that looks at what people can do. This is ridiculous and is clearly based on the premise that being able to do something diminishes their limitations. This is nonsense. Whatever a person can do bears no relevance to the reality of the workplace, its demands, or, more importantly, what problems the person has, which remain. This is dangerous ignorance. The first priority should NOT be ‘get thee into work or the welfare bill will drag us into hell’, but to get people as well as possible.

    Until you realise this, there is no point voting Labour anymore than there is voting for the scum currently in power because you’re all the same. Labour’s constant attempts to cosy up to the raging prejudice of middle england is disappointing and disgusting.

    • RedMiner

      Absolutely right.

      In my father’s day, and in my youth, if a manual worker was seriously injured he was signed on to the sick because it was accepted he couldn’t possibly do his job. Nowadays, a manual worker is hounded and sanctioned to look for a clerical job. It never occurs to these expensively educated geniuses that if he could have got a clerical job in the first place he wouldn’t have been doing heavy manual labour!

      As Grayling said in an answer before he left the DWP, he was absolutely determined to a resist a ‘real world assessment’. Which is essentially what Kate Green is saying above.

      Perhaps the Government do realise the absurdity of their position, but are determined to make the poorest and most vulnerable pay for their Brave New tax free World. The neoliberal’s wet dream, a flexible labour market that forces people onto workfare and into zero hours contracts, and when they’re injured, sick or disabled, they sanction them into destitution to the point they need Red Cross parcels.

      • ghost whistler

        I don’t think this government even cares.

      • treborc1

        What you have to remember labour used the public sector as a means of getting the sick and disabled into work, the DWP, Tax office, and the NHS was the place you were sent for a eleven months , eleven months means the NHS did not have to pay then for any alterations, you were then sent home for three months and re employed back into the NHS.

        The biggest private company who agreed to employ the disabled was Asda but Asda illegally run a quota, they employ three four disabled people who do jobs which means they do not work the check outs or fill the shelves. One of Tesco junior managers told me it may turn non disabled people off buying something if they saw disabled people filling shelves. And I got this a lot for example I went to see a Job Provider and the young lady who all seem to be under 25 so they’d get paid the lowest wages, refused to shake hands and when i asked why the supervisor said well you never know what is wrong with them.

        Shaw Trust, Remploy interworks and many others who are supposed to help people never seem to have any disabled people working for them which is a surprise, you would think the government would have said you have to employ 50% disabled people, but nope..

        We still even to day think people who are disabled or sick are in fact contagious, even if you lose a leg it may be due to illness or diseases.

        The time people have refused to shake my hand, you’d be shocked.

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    Having gone through the Atos assessment and appeal process (and failed) I have
    re-geared my head into positive mode in order to avoid visions of Poundland and debt collectors disturbing my sleep.

    Dennis Skinner was unusually measured and eloquent as he told the story of the suffering of his former constituent.

    Last Xmas was hell. I received a letter informing me that I failed my Atos
    assessment on Xmas Eve. It stated that if I wished to appeal I could do so using form ESA50, but they didn’t enclose it and Santa didn’t bring it down my chimney. Luckily I found it online, downloaded it, upgraded my Adobe Reader and converted the pdf to Word so that I could enter text. They said that I had a month (from the date on
    the letter) to appeal, but they didn’t say whether it was a 28 day month and
    they didn’t take account of the fact that I couldn’t get advice over the Xmas period. I spent all Xmas and NY alone doing nothing but researching and writing this appeal from early morning till late at night.

    I rang the DWP several times as soon as they re-opened. It took at least 30 minutes to get through and because I’m not a BT customer it cost me a lot of money. A local legal aid firm said that they couldn’t fit me in until February so I did the best that I could and took it to the local Job Centre. They sent the form through internal mail and it arrived just on time. My sympathy goes to those people who don’t own a computer, are not computer literate and/or have difficulty reading and writing. My sympathy also goes to those who have invisible fluctuating conditions and mental health problems.

    It is IDS and the DWP who are wedded to the tick box approach. It is designed to
    trick claimants into failing e.g. the only answer that yields any points to Q8 is if you tick blind. VARIES invariably yields 0. I object to the fact that they give you an option to tick VARIES knowing that it will yeald 0 points. This is particularly unfair to those with fluctuating conditions. Professor Harrington’s 3rd review recommended that the WCA includes fluctuating conditions, but it still doesn’t.

    Neurologists would be out of business if ability to walk was the test and cure for epilepsy! Neurologists would be out of business if nit nurses and physiotherapists took over diagnosis of epilepsy. It remains a fact that my ability to get across a road safely fluctuates. I’ve had seizures in the middle of the road on a number of occasions and cars have (apparently) swerved to miss me. When I went on the London Legal Walk I kept exclaiming “Hallelujah! I can walk! I am cured of my epilepsy!”

    Michael Meacher has been a real champion for Atos victims, but we need more Labour MPs to fight for people with disabilities. Remember disabled people, their families and friends are all potential voters.

    • treborc1

      I’m really sorry to hear this because my nephew has this very same illness and he has also lost and lost the appeal, yet he cannot get JSA because he’s classed as to disabled.

      • BusyBeeBuzz

        Someone has given your nephew inaccurate advice. If he failed his Atos WCA he would have been sent a letter stating that he is “fit for work”. If he has been declared “fit for work” and is unemployed then he is illegible for JSA. He should apply for JSA immediately even if he still being paid ESA. It will enable a smooth transition from ESA to JSA if he applies for JSA while he is still in receipt of ESA.

        First he is going to have to find out the date on which his ESA will end by ringing Job Centre (telephone number on the letter). He then has to ring New Claims tel: 0800 055 6688. He should tell them that he has failed his Atos test, his ESA is about to end and that he wishes to apply for JSA. They will probably tell him that he can either:
        * fill in an online application form or
        * give the information to a person over the phone (which I did)

        He will then be given the telephone number of his local Job Centre Plus. He should ring this number to make an appointment for a short interview. My appointment was made for 2 days after this phone call.

        They said to me “We are not denying your disability. We are just saying that you are fit to work.”

        • PaulHalsall

          Sick, but useful to know. Thanks.

        • treborc1

          He cannot get JSA he has not paid enough stamps, he’s been disabled since he was six years old.

          • BusyBeeBuzz

            JSA is for those who haven’t paid enough stamps. If he had paid enough stamps then would would be eligible for income based Income Support. He can get JSA, but he won’t get it unless he applies for it.

          • treborc1

            I’m not going to bother arguing it’s all out on the world wide web…And if it that easy why are you arguing about the benefits regime

          • BusyBeeBuzz

            I am not arguing with you! I am trying to give you advice that you can pass on to your nephew. You said that “…my nephew has this very same illness and he has also lost and lost the appeal, yet he cannot get JSA because he’s classed as to disabled.”

            My advise is free. Take my advise or leave it. It is entirely up to you, but it is your nephew who will suffer if you don’t pass on my advise.

            I suspect that you haven’t really got a nephew.

          • treborc1

            Do not worry I’ve been helping out at two charities for the past five years, from sitting listen to people who have been refused benefits to having people ask me how do I feed the family to spending hours on the phone to the DWP or the Job center trying to get money for these people.

            I’ve seen grown men crying to people attempting to take their lives in the office.

            If I saw Tony Blair, Purnell or Freud crossing the road I can tell you now they have be some dirty underpants that day.

          • BusyBeeBuzz

            Perhaps I have misunderstood you? Nevertheless I am confused about your position. You claim that you don’t vote so you are not a member of the Labour Party. Neither do you come across as someone who has been campaigning with disabled people or with Justice for All.

            One of your comments implied that you are against legal aid for judicial review. It is very unusual for a paid or unpaid advice worker to be against legal aid.

            It is very unusual for an unemployed disabled person who has a wife suffering from cerebral palsy and a disabled nephew to be against legal aid.

          • BusyBeeBuzz

            There are 2 types of JSA: contribution-based JSA and income-based JSA. Since your nephew hasn’t paid any stamps he could get income-based JSA. “You could get this if you’ve not paid enough National Insurance as an employee and you’re on a low income.”

    • RedMiner

      You mention consulting a legal firm. Of course that would now be impossible for many because legal aid for benefit appeals has been stopped.

      • BusyBeeBuzz

        Yes, unfortunately the vast majority of the public were not interested in joining the Justice4All campaign. I banged on about saving legal aid until I was blue in the face. Even those who were campaigning against the Atos WCA didn’t want to know. Now it’s gone people will slowly start realising why it was probably the most important campaign issue to fight for.
        You can however get advice at a Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Alternatively, you can get advice from lawyers (and fellow legal aid campaigners) on ilegal at:

    • pete3867

      yes , I had the same experience last winter but I had pnuemonia, the exact same thing hapened with the esa 50 form too .. I have a ‘fluctuating’ disease , so only scored 6 points

      • treborc1

        It’s been a long standing issue and it is difficult to get people who do not understand , to accept this issue, even some GP’s have problem about fluctuating pain or illness..

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    If I wasn’t skint, in debt and on benefits I might have enough money to challenge bad law (statutory instrument) through judicial review, but since they have increased the cost and removed legal aid for judicial review cases I cannot do it alone. If any of you want to join me in doing so, we could all chip in.

    We all have a democratic right to challenge bad laws. Furthermore, under Article 6 of the HRA 1998 and the European Convention on HRs we have a right to a fair trial which includes equality of arms. Legal aid cuts to judicial review removed poorer people’s equality of arms. Our fundamental campaigns should be against the cuts to legal aid and against removing the HRA and withdrawing from the ECHR.

    • BusyBeeBuzz

      I can only assume that those who have voted my comment down don’t believe in democracy or don’t understand how our democratic system has worked for hundreds of years.

      • treborc1

        Well it’s not me, even if I do not agree with a comment I believe it’s a person opinion and would never ever vote anyone down.

        • BusyBeeBuzz

          Yep. You are sick and deserve to be on the sick along. Sad. Very sad. If you are a non-voter what are you doing on this site? You have troll like characteristics and I suspect you of untruth.

          • treborc1

            True you caught me out yep I’m a troll, dam

  • treborc1

    Here s a good one how many people do you think have actually found work from the WCA.

    The facts tell you mass reassessment of the sick simply isn’t working:

    1,290 claimants have ended up with a job via the DWP Work Programme


    3,053,200 DWP work capability assessments

    The Labour party stated it was 220,000

    But when you think back 200,000 people left the welfare benefits system under Labour before the welfare reforms and 220,000 under Thatcher because these are people who had heart attacks were ill sick or had injuries broken legs got better. it stated every year 200,000 claimed before of getting very ill and then got batter and let the welfare system and have been doing so since the welfare state started.

    The issue is now of course we have had a recession if you like I’d say it was a depression, nobody wants the sick the disabled or those with poor work records.

    So what is the truth how many people are really being helped.

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    Read all the latest news about IDS, DWP and Atos WCA from legal experts at:

    Or, go to the home page and get advice at:

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    This month IDS is going to make it harder for people to appeal decisions. On 6 Sept, John Pring (Disability News Service) reported that “The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has denied the existence of a “Catch-22” situation that could affect thousands of disabled people unfairly found “fit for work” following an assessment by its contractors Atos Healthcare.

    From next month, those found ineligible for employment and support allowance (ESA) – the new out-of-work disability and sickness benefit – will have to go through an extra stage before they can lodge an appeal with the tribunals service.

    During this “mandatory reconsideration” stage – which will see a DWP officer looking again at the claim to see if the original decision was correct – the claimant will no longer be entitled to receive ESA.

    Currently, claimants can continue to receive ESA while they appeal, but from next month they will instead have to claim jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), or survive without
    any benefits.

    Campaigners say that this creates a Catch-22 situation, because by claiming JSA they will have to declare they are fit and available for work, even though they believe they are not.

    Continue reading this article at:

  • Atos Victims

    The connection between the Labour Party & Unum is one that the Party and all it’s membership should be ashamed off, sadly the Party which the working classes and the sick & Disabled and poverty stricken once knew would stand up for them no longer does, it’s the party of the New Right?

    The Atos Experiment should of been abandoned years ago, the torture process and that’s what it is is solely there to deny legitimate people the basics of life?

    I’ve written to all the main parties, I’ve written to loads of politicians of all sides, they all speak with forked tongue, there all on the same song sheet basically?

    The political classes have long lost it’s empathy for those less fortunate than themselves, it’s easier for those in parliament to brand all those who are in need as “Malingerer’s” or “Lazy” ” Workshy”, the true reality is that we now live in a society where there are very few full time job opportunities, part time work has increased and zero hours contracts are increasing, how can anyone raise a familiy etc if they don’t know when they are going to get paid work next?

    When people like this poor soul are being told that they’re fit to work? –

    then it’s time to say enough is enough?

    How many more innocent people need to suffer the humiliation and degradation this torture process is causing? How much longer will the likes of “Kate Green” and her colleagues continue to say the system needs reforming, it needs TERMINATING NOW?

    If the politicians really wanted to invest in a system that truly worked it would be simple but they want a system that DENIES people their rightful entitlement to money?

    The best way to define if someone is fit enough to work is for the individuals own GP, CPN, Consultant etc to provide reports, this more often than not takes place now but those reports are IGNORED in favor of unqualified Atos HCPs who know NOTHING about the individuals who are sitting in front of them?

    One thing which would also help is for ALL ASSESSMENTS TO BE AUDIO/VIDEO RECORDED, this would offer some form of evidential backup for the HCP against false allegations and also for the person being assessed, why the DWP don’t insist on this is all too clear for people to see, the DWP/Government don’t want the truth to get out?

  • Pingback: Ms Green, Atos have been getting pissed in the last chance saloon for years, now’s the time to close the bar down… | Atos Victims Group News()

  • Helen Carroll

    Governments are all trying to push people off of a benefit system that they have paid into a private form of benefit system. But as a person who has had an accident at RMG and trying to access my ill health benefit, which as a consequence, I lost my job. I have successfully sued RM 4 times and won my case, the last in the chancery division at the High court and still I am left penniless. Strangely enough, the Dr’s employed by RMG are from ATOS. Strange isn’t it.

  • jeffrey davies

    the way to save monies isget rid of all parliment take the trough out replace Mervin king incharge then perhaps we see a country being run properly

  • pete3867

    Kate Green is nothing more that a career MP , as someone once said , she is a ‘weather vane’ not a sign. There is not an ounce of honesty in the whole article. Its as if Labour have suddenly realized that ATOS and the raft of other unfair sanctions that the Tories have imposed (thanks to Labour) are unpopular, so they are trying to win votes back. Well NO ONE in mainstream politics stood up for sick and disabled people when all this was going through. Iam afraid, even though I am a lifelong socialist that Labour, or any other party will get my vote, I, like thousands of other people have given up on politics. Politicians are only in it for themselves

  • treborc1

    Yes if you have one near you that’s left open and of course many people want more then advice they need help and the CAB will be badly hurt by people not getting legal aid.

  • treborc1

    Dam if you look at that site you will see me again as a troll sorry dam as a member.

  • Pingback: Dear Kate Green – Where do Disabled People fit in Labour’s ‘Tough on Welfare’? | jaynelinney()

  • Sinister Lord

    I wonder if anyone here can clarify the following issue:-

    Universal Credit in its current form will remove any equivalent Disability Component from the Tax-Credit system. This will have a huge adverse affect on thousands of people working over 16 hours, but who are unable to work a full working week due to their condition. Many of those affected will be forced onto full-time benefits as a result. Will Labour commit to keeping this component or equivalent under Universal Credit? Assuming Labour does continue with the reform towards UC?

  • Nick Paul


    Since this research was completed additional information has been brought to my
    attention. In a letter to a dying man, the manager of the DWP CMMS department
    has confirmed in writing that the DWP never have audited/monitored the contract
    between the DWP and Atos Healthcare, contrary to the claims of successive Ministers, who constantly reassure the House and the British public. In her letter to Mike
    Bach, Hilary Brierley confirmed that: “…

    the Department has not exercised its contractualright to access for purposes of
    auditing Atos Healthcare’s compliance with its contractual obligations.”

    Someone, somewhere should explain to this woman the difference between a contractual rite and a contractual obligation when dealing with a £100million government contract.The only monitoring undertaken by the DWP and Atos Healthcare is to check the paperwork and the targets. There is no clinical evaluation of these medical reports or the doctors producing them.

    It has now been confirmed that this government contract withAtos Origin Medical
    Services has never been monitored/audited by the DWP.

    loving memory of Eileen Nearne – a WW11 hero betrayed by her


  • Poppyshakespere

    Golly gosh, here we go again how to bring down the benefits bill, easy stop RBS paying themselves huge bonuses for failing yet again, that should about do it?

    All we hear is bring down the benefits bill, and a tiny percentage of the benefits bill actually gets paid to the sick and or the disabled and the mentally ill (all of whom are facing a nightmare from ATOS) and having their benefits cut, withdrawn, and or waiting months for changes and being left with no income at all.

    This is an old article and tbh kate you sound like a tory, this whole sorry mess is a shambles and lets all be fair, the disability component is a very small bit of the bill, be real and talk facts, the British public are sick of being lied to.



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