Daily Archives: August 31, 2012


Press release: Disabled activists and UK Uncut blockade the DWP and Atos’ HQ in protest against welfare cuts

Disabled activists and UK Uncut blockade the DWP and Atos headquarters in protest against government welfare cuts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press enquiries:

UK Uncut: 07415063231 | ukuncut@gmail.com | DPAC: mail@dpac.uk.net

Today, over 400 protesters from Disabled People Against the Cuts 1 and UK Uncut 2 have simultaneously shut down Paralympic sponsor Atos’ headquarters and the Department for Work and Pensions.

This was a spectacular grand finale to a sustained week of creative direct action 3 against Atos by the two grassroots direct action groups, timed to coincide with the first week of the Paralympic Games.

The second target, the DWP, was not revealed until over an hour into ‘The Closing Atos Ceremony’ 4 outside Atos HQ. When it was announced that a smaller group of disabled activists had locked on and blockaded and occupied the DWP building, protesters travelled from the atos building to join them by by tube, buses and taxis. There were 8-12 disabled and non disabled activists inside DWP who then left DWP 2 hours later. This comes after Cecilia Burns died of cancer today despite Atos telling her she was fit for work and cutting her benefits. The police were very heavy-handed at DWP with disabled activists and one woman had her wheelchair damaged by police. One many also went to hospital due to the heavy handling by police. There was one arrest.

Throughout the week hundreds of disabled activists and anti-cuts campaigners have collaborated and taken part in over 20 anti-Atos demos all over the UK; a coffin full of messages from the victims of Atos was delivered to Atos HQ in London, a main road was blocked with a mass ‘die-in’ in Cardiff 5 , the Atos centre in Sheffield was stormed, and the ‘Armchair Olympics’ took place, which saw people unable to leave their homes jamming the phones and emails at Atos HQ for a whole day. Whilst speculation continues that Team GB Paralympic athletes hid the Atos logos on their lanyards at the Paralympic opening ceremony on Wednesday evening in an act of resistance to the Paralympic sponsor 6.

Atos were awarded the £100 million a year contract by the Department for Work and Pensions to conduct work capability assessments on sick and disable people. Their testing programme has come under fierce criticism. The British Medical Association 7, disabled people, and MPS 8 have all demanded the tests be halted immediately. A recent episode of Dispatches 9 revealed Atos staff being pressured into unfairly declaring people ‘fit for work’ in order to fulfil targets set by the government. The government are aiming to cut nearly 20% from the welfare bill, despite the government’s own figures showing less than a 0.5% fraud rate 10.

Lydia Foxton, a spokesperson from DPAC said:
‘We have been targeting Atos, but they are just doing the government’s dirty work. Cutting welfare is devastating people’s lives and removing dignity, security and independence from thousands of sick and disabled people across the country. At the same time, David Cameron and his government are using the Paralympics to show themselves to be champions of disabled people, it’s a disgrace.’

Andrew Cox, a spokesperson from UK Uncut said:
‘The government have been making huge cuts to welfare provision, even though their own research shows that less than 0.5% of welfare claims are fraudulent. They are making disabled people a scapegoat for the economic crisis – they are being punished with welfare cuts, while the banks and the big businesses are getting off scot-free. The government could clamp down on tax avoidance and get back billions, the savings they will make from cutting welfare do not even come close, and they are devastating people’s lives.’

See here for photos and follow the story @ukuncut and #giveatoss

ENDS

Notes to editors:
Disabled people who have undergone Atos’ WCA are at the action and are available to talk to the media, please contact the UK Uncut media phone for details.
1 DPAC is a volunteer campaign network of and for disabled people campaigning for equality and human rights for all disabled people: dpac.uk.net/about
2 UK Uncut is a grassroots anti-cuts direct action network, well-known for targeting corporate tax avoidance: ukuncut.org
3 ukuncut.org/blog/the-atos-games
4 www.facebook.com/events/217652368360892
5 blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/08/30/re…
6 www.channel4.com/news/did-gb-paralympia…
7 bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/201…
8 parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/295
9 www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/…
10 falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/repost-benefit…


Press release: Disabled activists and UK Uncut occupy DWP in protest against Atos and government welfare cuts

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press enquiries:
UK Uncut: Tel: 07415063231 | Email: ukuncut@gmail.com | Email: mail@dpac.uk.net

Disabled activists and UK Uncut have occupied the Department for Work and Pensions in a surprise secret action and have blockaded the doors.

This daring and disruptive protest is in reaction to the government’s welfare cuts and the £100 million a year contract given to the Paralympic sponsor Atos to push sick and disabled people off benefits.
This comes after it was announced this morning that Cecilia Burns, a cancer sufferer, who had her benefits cut by Atos and told her she was fit to work, has died1.1.

Disabled People Against the Cuts 1 and UK Uncut 2 began their protest at Atos’ headquarters in central London in an event dubbed ‘The Closing Atos Ceremony’ 3, but as all attention was on Atos, a small group of activists moved into position at DWP.

Hundreds of disabled people and their supporters from the first protest at Atos HQ are currently making their way by tube, bus and taxi to join the disabled activists at DWP. This spectacular day of action is the grand finale to a sustained week of protests against Atos 4 , timed to coincide with the first week of the Paralympic Games.

The two groups have targeted DWP to highlight that Atos is being paid to do the government’s dirty work. Activists inside the building are demanding an end to Work Capability Assessments, that Atos’ contract be terminated, and that the government reverse its cuts to welfare provision.

Atos are employed by the government to conduct Work Capability Assessments on sick and disable people. Their testing programme has come under fierce criticism. The British Medical Association 5, disabled people, and MPs 6 have all demanded the tests be halted immediately.

A recent episode of Dispatches 7 revealed Atos staff being pressured into unfairly declaring people ‘fit for work’ in order to fulfil targets set by the government. The government are aiming to cut nearly 20% from the welfare bill, despite the government’s own figures showing less than a 0.5% fraud rate and clear alternatives like clamping down on tax avoidance.8

Lydia Foxton, a spokesperson from DPAC said:

‘We have been targeting Atos, but they are just doing the government’s dirty work. Cutting welfare is devastating people’s lives and removing dignity, security and independence from thousands of sick and disabled people across the country. At the same time, David Cameron and his government are using the Paralympics to show themselves to be champions of disabled people, it’s a disgrace.’

Sam Kennard, a spokesperson from UK Uncut said:

‘The government have been making huge cuts to welfare provision, even though their own research shows that less than 0.5% of welfare claims are fraudulent. They are making disabled people a scapegoat for the economic crisis – they are being punished with welfare cuts, while the banks and the big businesses are getting off scot-free. The government could clamp down on tax avoidance and get back billions, the savings they will make from cutting welfare do not even come close, and they are devastating people’s lives.’

Notes to editors:

Disabled people who have undergone Atos’ WCA are at the action and are available to talk to the media, please contact the UK Uncut media phone for details.

1.1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19433535
1 DPAC is a volunteer campaign network of and for disabled people campaigning for equality and human rights for all disabled people: dpac.uk.net/about
2 UK Uncut is a grassroots anti-cuts direct action network, well-known for targeting corporate tax avoidance: ukuncut.org
3 www.facebook.com/events/217652368360892
4 ukuncut.org/blog/the-atos-games
5 parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/295

8 falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/repost-benefit…


Press release: Paralympic ceremony performers join disabled activists and UK Uncut to target Atos HQ in London

Paralympic ceremony performers join disabled activists and UK Uncut to target Atos HQ in London

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press enquiries:
UK Uncut – Tel: 07415063231 | Email: ukuncut@gmail.com | Email: mail@dpac.uk.net

Today Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and UK Uncut will pile pressure on the controversial Paralympics sponsor Atos. Over 700 hundred protesters from across the UK are expected to descend on Atos’ headquarters in London to confront the company about their controversial Work Capability Assessments (WCA) which are destroying the lives of sick and disabled people.

The two groups have promised creative direct action and a surprise climax at the ‘The Closing Atos Ceremony’, which is the grand finale to a week of protests against Atos due to their role in driving through the government’s welfare cuts and the gross irony that the company is sponsoring the Paralympics.

Performers who took part in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony – who, due to contracts, have been unable to speak out against Atos – will be at the protest. High-profile comedian Francesca Martinez and Radio 4’s Jeremy Hardy will also be joining the day of action, to show their solidarity with the campaign. Whilst the discussion about Team GB Paralympic athlete’s apparent decision to hide the Atos logos on their lanyards at the Paralympic opening ceremony on Wednesday evening 1.

Atos have come under fierce scrutiny for their handling of the Department of Work and Pensions £100 million a year contract, assessing whether claimants for incapacity benefits are ‘fit for work’. Last year 1,100 claimants died while under compulsory work-related activity for benefits 2; and a number of those found ‘fit for work’ and left without income have committed or attempted suicide 3. A recent episode of Dispatches 4 revealed Atos staff being pressured into unfairly declaring people ‘fit for work’ in order to fulfill targets.

The British Medical Association 5, disabled groups, and MPs 6 have all demanded the work capability assessments end with immediate effect. The High Court also recently granted permission for two disabled people to bring a claim for judicial review against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, challenging the operation of the WCA 7.

Paddy Murphy, a spokesperson from DPAC said:

“Atos’ sponsorship of the games is beyond a joke. They receive hundreds of millions of pounds from the government while many disabled people are being forced to live in abject poverty because of their decisions. This is just another opportunity for them to ‘cash-in’. But we aren’t going to let them off the hook. We are fighting back on the streets, online, in the courts, and now at the Paralympics. We will make sure everyone knows what Atos are really about.”

Lisa Cunningham, a UK Uncut activist said:

“Atos is being paid to do the government’s dirty work; kicking disabled and sick people off benefits and driving them into poverty, misery and suicide. The government is making disabled people a scapegoat for the economic crisis – they are being punished with welfare cuts, while the banks and the big businesses are getting off scot-free. The government could clamp down on tax avoidance and get back billions, rather than the peanuts from cuts to disability benefits.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Disabled people who have undergone Atos’ WCA are available to talk to the media, please contact the UK Uncut media phone for details.

The protest will begin at 12.45pm will be at Atos HQ in Triton Square, Central London. it is being organised by DPAC, a volunteer campaign network of and for disabled people campaigning for equality and human rights for all disabled people: dpac.uk.net/about and UK Uncut – a grassroots anti-cuts direct action network, well-known for targeting corporate tax avoidance: ukuncut.org

1 www.channel4.com/news/did-gb-paralympia…
2 blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/…
3 poultonblog.dailymail.co.uk/2012/03/peo…
4 www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/…
5 bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/201…
6 parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/295
7 atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2012/07/26/judic…