Atos are failing the test when it comes
IT appears Atos’s “humiliating” assessments insisting that
Brian McArdle was no longer eligible for any disability
benefits sent him to his grave.
THE harrowing letter from 13-year-old Kieran McArdle is enough to break the
hardest Atos heart.
Kieran has blamed the humiliating assessments for a new disability benefit for
the death of his father Brian at the age of 57.
The test of whether disabled claimants are eligible for the new benefit are well
known to be flawed and blunt instruments for measuring each person’s individual
Now it appears Atos’s “humiliating” assessments insisting that Brian McArdle was
no longer eligible for any disability benefits sent him to his grave.
It is the kind of letter that should make Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan
Smith hang his head in shame.
The former Tory leader has posed as some kind of compassionate friend of the
poor since his so-called “road to Damascus” conversion to the effects of poverty.
Duncan Smith pitched up in Easterhouse in Glasgow once and was shocked by the
poverty he saw.
He didn’t seem to realise that what he had witnessed was the legacy of 18 years
of Tory government that sent Easterhouses all over Scotland and England into a
downward spiral of joblessness.
Easterhouse has moved on since then – and is well rid of Duncan Smith, who has
turned his donkey around and is hightailing it back from Damascus as fast as he
He has become as heartless as the company assessments that force the
permanently ill back to work.
No one across the political spectrum disagrees with the proposal that those who
can work do so – and that the bill for welfare must be brought down.
But the system the Tories have chosen, using the private French company Atos, is
as cruel as it is hopeless.
The assessments simply do not take into account people’s individual disabilities
and cause huge anxiety and strain.
That was enough to kill one man, and break his son’s heart.
That’s too high a price to pay for welfare reform.
It is the tests that needs reform, not the people they are applied to.
A welcome split
THE Record has been highlighting the shambles of Scotland’s £36million
methadone scheme for months.
There is little evidence the current system is helping addicts, despite its huge cost
to the taxpayer.
So when government quango the Scottish Drugs Forum worry that “political unity”
on the issue is breaking down, then that should be music to everyone’s ears.
For the last 20 years, politicians have gone along with the dispensing of the heroin
substitute without any proper idea of whether it is working or not, or how long
people are parked on it – up to 30 years in some cases.
Now, at last, partly prompted by the Record’s coverage, that cosy political
consensus has broken down, with Labour and Tories both questioning what is going
Long may that continue. We need a drugs policy that gets people off drugs, not
dumps them on Methadone forever.