Campaigners take disability cuts protest to Job
PROTESTORS gathered outside Stroud’s Job Centre Plus to
campaign against Atos Healthcare’s sponsorship of the London
2012 Paralympic Games.
Members of Stroud Against the Cuts staged the demonstration on
Wednesday, August 29, in opposition at the French firm’s
involvement with the games due to criticisms of its assessments
of people with disabilities.
The multinational firm has a £110 million contract with the
Department of Work and Pensions to carry out work capability
evaluations – used to determine who should receive disability
benefits – but protest groups across the UK accuse the company
of arbitrarily cutting eligibility figures to meet government targets
on reduced welfare expenditure.
They also point to official data showing nearly four out of 10
appeals against decisions declaring people ‘fit for work’ are
successful. Among the demonstrators was Gabriel Parlour, who
was herself awaiting the outcome of an appeal against a DWP
ruling declaring her son Ashley fit for work, despite him being
diagnosed with a condition on the autistic spectrum. "This has
been extremely stressful for him and for me," said Mrs Parlour.
"The assessment methods are not fit for purpose for people on the
autistic spectrum because on the outside he appears completely
"A computer program is not an adequate way to assess people’s
health, only allowing yes or no answers and leaving no space for
people to qualify and explain how their health affects their day-to-
day life." Also present to lend her support was multiple sclerosis
sufferer Helen Prynne, from Stroud, who said: "I think it is deeply
unfair to pick on disabled people in this way.
"The balance of wealth in this country is all wrong and the
government needs to get its priorities right." In response to the
concerns, Atos Healthcare maintains that it meets all of its