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Botched tests deny the disabled their benefits


There are serious concerns about the way Atos makes its assessments for eligibility.

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Botched tests deny the disabled their
There are serious concerns about the way Atos makes its
assessments for eligibility

It is roundly accepted that a society can be judged on how it treats its weakest members. Few would want to live
in a country where those who were too ill to work were left to fend for themselves. Providing assistance to those
in need is fundamental to a civilised society, and I’m pleased that in this country we have a long, rich tradition of

But there are finite resources available, and we need to assess who is eligible for help and in what
circumstances. Deciding where the line falls isn’t easy. If the bar is set too high, it risks excluding people in
genuine need. If it is too low, then too many people qualify who might be able to work, and that reduces the
resources available to those in greater need.

At present, anyone who claims employment and support allowance because they are too sick or disabled to
work must pass a work-capability test, designed by the Department for Work and Pensions but conducted by
Atos, a French company. For some time, there have been concerns about the way this company makes its
assessments, but a blistering light was shone on its practices after it sponsored the Paralympic Games.

In what will surely come to be regarded as a textbook PR disaster, the strength of feeling towards this company
among those with disabilities, carers and medical professionals was beamed across the world when athletes at
the opening ceremony were seen covering up the Atos logo on their clothing.

Atos has been dogged by controversy ever since it took over the Disability Living Allowance assessments, and
the accusation – that it unfairly fails people, thus stripping them of their benefits and placing them under extreme
stress and financial hardship – was given more weight last month when a nurse who had previously been
employed to assess applicants claimed that she was forced to judge disabled people as fit for work.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of people have signed various online petitions
including one calling for Atos to be fined for failure.

Some are petitioning the International Criminal Court for the prosecution of
David Cameron and the UK Government for the relentless persecution and abuse
of the sick, disabled and vulnerable citizens of the nation.

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