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Date(s) - 19.02.2014
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Protesters from across the country will gather nationally across 144 of the locations used by ATOS to administer work capability assessments. A key demand of these protesters is that the government no longer uses ATOS to preform these assessments. This controversial scheme has seen 10,600 ESA claimants die within 6 weeks of their claim ending although the Department for Work and Pensions is unable or unwilling to elaborate what percentage of those claims ended due to being found fit for work by ATOS.

Currently roughly one in four of the claimants found to be fit for work by ATOS goes on to overturn the decision at tribunal and the country was shocked by revelations from ATOS whistle-blower Greg Wood who lifted the lid on the shocking culture that existed within the organisation and the ineffectiveness of the assessment procedure. Also, a recent report from the centre for welfare reform showed that informal targets were being set by ATOS which had assessors under pressure to fail around 65% of claimants.

Campaigners come from a wide diverse section of society, ranging from disabled people who are directly affected by the changes in the administration of benefits to concerned citizens worried about the treatment of the most vulnerable in society. Joe Salmon, co ordinator of the Green Party in Headingley Leeds where the movement began said “Ultimately means tested benefits are something we should be moving away from and instead embrace the benefits of a negative income tax or ‘Citizens Income’ as set out in Green Party policy with a supplement for people with disabilities or special needs.”

Protesters are also calling for an apology from Iain Duncan Smith and Thierry Breton, Chairman and CEO of ATOS to the six families of benefit claimants who took their lives following decisions made by ATOS listed below. Tim Salter, a 53 year old blind man suffering with agoraphobia. Lee Robinson, 39, of Crawley, Sussex, who was the first person in whose suicide could be attributed to the governments changes. Shaun Pilkington, 58, who was sent a letter saying he was to lose his ­Employment and Support ­Allowance, which he got after a long-term illness. Edward Jacques, 47, of Sneinton, Nottingham, who took a fatal overdose after his benefit payments were stopped. Richard ­Sanderson, 44, of ­Southfields, south-west London, stabbed himself in the heart. Jacqueline Harris, a 53-year-old former nurse from Bristol, was found dead at her home, likely having taken an overdose of medications after she was pronounced fit for work in November 2012. Campaigners are worried this list is set to grow and grow unless urgent action is taken to reverse the perverse treatment and demonetisation of benefit claimants.

List of 144 locations for demonstrations

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