VIEWS: 21 PAGES: 2 CATEGORY: Other POSTED ON: 8/30/2012
Disabilities minister Maria Miller has come under fire over welfare reforms after the private firm carrying out the Government’s work capability assessments, Atos, was presented with a coffin by campaigners outside its UK headquarters representing those that have died after being found ‘fit for work’.
http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2012-08-30-Campaigners-target-Atos-with-coffin-display-as-anger-rages- over-disability-benefits Campaigners target Atos with coffin display as anger rages over disability benefits Disabilities minister Maria Miller has come under fire over welfare reforms after the private firm carrying out the Government‟s work capability assessments, Atos, was presented with a coffin by campaigners outside its UK headquarters representing those that have died after being found „fit for work‟. Miller was quizzed on the BBC‟s Newsnight over the number of successful appeals to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) decisions and changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which will see claimants reassessed for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from next year. The minister was quizzed on the eve of the Paralympics, which coincided with disability campaigners presenting Atos – one of the Paralympic Games sponsors – with the macabre display. Atos has come under fire from claimants and charities who argue the tests are degrading and not fit for purpose. In one case highlighted by the BBC‟s Panorama a man died 39 days after being assessed as „fit for work‟ by Atos. In another case, an emphysema sufferer, who at one stage was given two days to live by his doctor, was passed fit for work but later successfully appealed the decision. The French firm is in charge of the medical assessments, which are used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help determine ESA eligibility. In response it said it doesn‟t make decisions on benefit entitlement or welfare policy but “provided a service as highly professional and compassionate as it can be”. Miller told Newsnight the Government was now working with the courts to understand why nearly 40 per cent of appeals against Employment Support Allowance (ESA) benefit decisions are found in favour of the customer. She also defended changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – which helps support disabled people in their daily lives. Changes to the DLA – which will become Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from next April – will see the most disabled people lose their automatic right to the benefit. This means those suffering from severe mental impairments and even double amputee victims will not necessarily automatically qualify for the PIP. Miller said: “I don‟t think there is anybody advocating a benefit that focuses in on an individual‟s impairment. What most disability organisations want, and indeed most disabled people want, is a disability support system that focuses on their everyday needs not whether or not they‟ve got this condition or that condition.” She said the department was working with more than 60 different disability organisations to put together the new PIP. “That‟s the approach they‟ve asked us to take and that‟s the approach we‟ve taken,” she said. Campaigners have also hit out at the DWP‟s plans to save 20% of the expenditure on the benefit by 2015. Miller said: “At the moment more than £600m a year is going out on overpayments to those who no longer qualify for the level of support they‟re getting. At the moment there is no way of reassessing people which is important to do.” She added it was particularly important now, at a time when the country has the Paralympics in London, that “we have a benefit system that is there to support people and not potentially leave them trapped in benefit dependency”. Francesca Martinez, comedienne and actress, who was also on Newsnight said it was “highly ironic” that Atos was a top sponsor of the Games. “I find that highly hypocritical and I know a lot of disabled people all round the country are very sickened by that.”
Pages to are hidden for
"Campaigners target Atos with coffin display as anger rages over disability benefits"Please download to view full document