A year ago today I went to protest outside the offices of the private healthcare company Atos – you’ll find more about that protest here. We were drawing attention to the inhumane Work Capability Assessment (WCA) that Atos administers on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
The WCA is used to assess whether sick and disabled people are able to work or not. If it finds that they are, it has a direct impact on their benefits and support. The test is widely considered flawed and has a staggeringly high appeals rate. At the time I wrote last year Atos had found 1100 people fit for work who had subsequently died.
Atos has also been given the contract to assess people for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that’s replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA). All of these multi-million pound contracts have been awarded on the understanding that the company would cut the number of people found eligible to receive these essential benefits.
A year on and the relentless cuts, twisted ideology and shameless propaganda are taking their toll on vital services, hard-won rights, and vulnerable people. Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are fighting back with a national week of action to ‘Reclaim Our Futures.’
Here’s how to get involved to help prevent yet more basic freedoms being brushed away and essential services scrapped:
Today to September 7th – Local Actions
Throughout the UK disabled and non-disabled people will be campaigning for a better future. Actions are taking place in Birmingham, Bristol, Leamington Spa, Swansea, Norfolk, Northampton and Wrexham. Please check the list and join in if you can.
Monday 2nd September – In Actual Fact
This is a Twitter event led by Liz Crow which will involve people tweeting actual facts about disability, about benefits and about cuts that contradict the rhetoric of the Government and the press. Please share as many #InActualFact‘s as you can.
Tuesday 3rd September – I Dare Day
‘I Dare Day’ is a day of online action on Twitter and Facebook. DPAC are asking people to tweet and spread the word across social media against their loss of rights, and segregation. It’s a campaign that demands rights, not charity. It asks leading disability charities to dare to do what disabled people want by not complying with Government agendas.
Here are some tweets and posts suggested by DPAC.
#I dare: speak up and campaign for independent living and to save the Independent Living Fund (ILF)
#I dare: speak out about the loss of support for disabled people
#I dare: speak out on the increasing suicides and premature deaths from Atos assessments
#I dare: speak out on the increasing number of disabled people left without food because of cuts
#I dare: to tell the truth about what is happening in this country to disabled people under this Government
#I dare: to say that it’s not ‘care’ disabled people want, but the right to make our own choices
#I dare: to say I want rights not charity
Wednesday 4th September – Reclaiming Our Futures Freedom Drive
This will bring protests from around the country to Westminster and to the doors of our politicians. The four-part protest will focus on:
• Opposing the Government’s attacks on inclusive education
• Drawing attention to the numbers of disabled people living in fuel poverty while the energy companies rake in ever-growing profits
• Challenging inaccessible transport and the opening of new inaccessible stations for Crossrail, and proposed cuts to customer assistance through cuts to railway staff
• Defending our NHS and demanding our right to levels of social care support that enable choice, control, dignity and independence
You can also express your views on the Government’s policies and practices by signing the WOW petition. Please also complete Mark Thomas’s Assessing the Assessors Survey if you’ve been assessed by Atos – it’s designed to assess their performance and to determine if they’re fit for purpose.
Please check out, support and get involved with The People’s Assembly – help resist the Government’s austerity programme which isn’t working and isn’t necessary. This is nationwide movement – find your local contact here.
It’s essential that we continue to resist the oppressive and damaging changes that the Government’s introducing and proposing. None of us knows what the future holds but what is certain is that the more freedoms and services we allow to be scrapped, the bleaker it will be for disabled and non-disabled people alike.
We need to keep taking action to challenge these damaging changes and to bring people together to build a brighter more just and inclusive future for this country.