Woman chains herself to Brighton building in protest at sickness benefit assessments

The Argus: Woman chains herself to Brighton building in protest at sickness benefit assessments Woman chains herself to Brighton building in protest at sickness benefit assessments

A woman chained herself to Atos offices in Dyke Road, Brighton, this afternoon in protest at the company's role in assessing whether disabled people are capable of working.

The demonstration is one of more than 140 planned across the UK by campaign groups such as Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle.

Atos has come under fire for wrongly assessing thousands of people as fit for work, leading to their benefits being stopped.

Leelee, pictured, travelled to Brighton to take part in the peaceful protest. She said: "I didn't plan to handcuff myself, but we've had enough and this can't keep going on."

More than 40% of people who have appealed their assessments have had the decision overturned. 

Protesters say the methods being used are not fit for purpose, and that assessors are not medically trained.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said yeseterday: “The government’s own figures last year showed that 10,600 people died within six weeks of being declared ‘fit for work’ by Atos. This alone should have set alarm bells ringing that the assessments were not fit for purpose.

“We are calling on the government to stop this degrading policy and introduce a fairer transparent system that restores dignity to the sick and disabled.”

A DWP spokesman said: “The WCA was introduced in 2008 by the previous Government, which appointed Atos as the sole provider. We have made, and continue to make, significant improvements to the WCA process.

“However we think it's right to see what work people can do with the right support, rather than write people off on out-of-work sickness benefits as sometimes happened in the past.”

A spokesman for Atos Healthcare said: “We absolutely respect people’s right to peaceful protest, and we are well aware that being assessed for benefit entitlement can be a difficult experience. However, lobbying against Atos will have no impact on welfare policy. It is not, nor has it ever been, our role to make decisions on who can or cannot receive benefits.

“We carry out assessments following strict guidelines and criteria written by Government. For the parts of the process we are responsible for, we work hard to treat people with care and respect.”

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