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					http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/disabled-activists-and-uk-uncut-blockade-the-dwp-and-atos-headquarters-in-
protest-against-government-welfare-cuts




Disabled activists and UK Uncut blockade the DWP and Atos
headquarters in protest against government welfare cuts FOR
IMMEDIATE RELEASE Press enquiries: UK Uncut: 07415063231 |
ukuncut@gmail.com | DPAC: mail@dpac.uk.net

Today, over 400 protesters from Disabled People Against the Cuts 1
and UK Uncut 2 have simultaneously shut down Paralympic sponsor
Atos’ headquarters and the Department for Work and Pensions.

This was a spectacular grand finale to a sustained week of creative
direct action 3 against Atos by the two grassroots direct action groups,
timed to coincide with the first week of the Paralympic Games.

The second target, the DWP, was not revealed until over an hour into
‘The Closing Atos Ceremony’ 4 outside Atos HQ. When it was
announced that a smaller group of disabled activists had locked on and
blockaded and occupied the DWP building, protesters travelled from
the atos building to join them by by tube, buses and taxis. There were
8-12 disabled and non disabled activists inside DWP who then left
DWP 2 hours later. This comes after Cecilia Burns died of cancer today
despite Atos telling her she was fit for work and cutting her benefits.
The police were very heavy-handed at DWP with disabled activists and
one woman had her wheelchair damaged by police. One many also
went to hospital due to the heavy handling by police. There was one
arrest.

Throughout the week hundreds of disabled activists and anti-cuts
campaigners have collaborated and taken part in over 20 anti-Atos
demos all over the UK; a coffin full of messages from the victims of
Atos was delivered to Atos HQ in London, a main road was blocked
with a mass ‘die-in’ in Cardiff 5 , the Atos centre in Sheffield was
stormed, and the ‘Armchair Olympics’ took place, which saw people
unable to leave their homes jamming the phones and emails at Atos
HQ for a whole day. Whilst speculation continues that Team GB
Paralympic athletes hid the Atos logos on their lanyards at the
Paralympic opening ceremony on Wednesday evening in an act of
resistance to the Paralympic sponsor 6.

Atos were awarded the £100 million a year contract by the Department
for Work and Pensions to conduct work capability assessments on sick
and disable people. Their testing programme has come under fierce
criticism. The British Medical Association 7, disabled people, and MPS
8 have all demanded the tests be halted immediately. A recent episode
of Dispatches 9 revealed Atos staff being pressured into unfairly
declaring people ‘fit for work’ in order to fulfil targets set by the
government. The government are aiming to cut nearly 20% from the
welfare bill, despite the government’s own figures showing less than a
0.5% fraud rate 10.

Lydia Foxton, a spokesperson from DPAC said: ‘We have been
targeting Atos, but they are just doing the government’s dirty work.
Cutting welfare is devastating people’s lives and removing dignity,
security and independence from thousands of sick and disabled people
across the country. At the same time, David Cameron and his
government are using the Paralympics to show themselves to be
champions of disabled people, it’s a disgrace.’

Andrew Cox, a spokesperson from UK Uncut said: ‘The government
have been making huge cuts to welfare provision, even though their
own research shows that less than 0.5% of welfare claims are
fraudulent. They are making disabled people a scapegoat for the
economic crisis – they are being punished with welfare cuts, while the
banks and the big businesses are getting off scot-free. The government
could clamp down on tax avoidance and get back billions, the savings
they will make from cutting welfare do not even come close, and they
are devastating people’s lives.’

				
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Description: Today, over 400 protesters from Disabled People Against the Cuts 1 and UK Uncut 2 have simultaneously shut down Paralympic sponsor Atos’ headquarters and the Department for Work and Pensions. This was a spectacular grand finale to a sustained week of creative direct action 3 against Atos by the two grassroots direct action groups, timed to coincide with the first week of the Paralympic Games.