Press release: DPAC and UK Uncut team up to target Paralympics sponsor Atos


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press enquiries:

  • UK Uncut: Tel: 07415063231 | Email: ukuncut@gmail.com
  • DPAC: Tel: 07508 983 610 | Email: maildpac.uk.net
  • UK Uncut [1] has today announced a joint action with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) [2], dubbed ‘The Closing Atos Ceremony’. The two groups have vowed to shut down Atos’ HQ at Triton Square in Central London during the Paralympic Games; promising direct action, creative protest and ‘plenty of surprises’. The action will be taking place on Friday 31st August at 12:45pm.

    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 benefit [3]; and a number of those found ‘fit for work’ and left without income have committed or attempted suicide [4]. In a recent episode of Dispatches [5], a hidden camera revealed Atos staff being pressured into declaring people fit in order to fulfil targets, instead of assessing people based on individual needs.

    The British Medical Association, disabled groups, and MPs have all demanded the work capability assessments be ended immediately. In June, the BMA [6] in Scotland and England demanded the WCA end with immediate effect. This was followed by an Early Day Motion [7] , signed by 83 MPs, criticising Atos assessments and their sponsorship of the Paralympics. And earlier this month the High Court 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 [8].

    DPAC and UK Uncut have taken action together before – last January they blocked roads at Oxford Circus in resistance to the government’s Welfare Reform Bill [9]. Disabled activists also played a leading role in UK Uncut’s anti-austerity jubilee street party on Nick Clegg’s street in Putney [10]. They claim the action against Atos will be equally ‘audacious, daring and disruptive’.

    Disabled people and their supporters will be coming from all over the country to the join the action in Central London. Both disabled and anti-cuts activists have vowed to highlight that “it is Atos who are not ‘fit for work’”. The two groups will be joining forces in a grand finale to end the week of action against Atos lead by Disabled People against the Cuts, dubbed ‘The Atos Games’ [11].

    UK Uncut and DPAC have said: ‘We’re not against the Paralympics. We are against the hypocrisy of Atos’ involvement, when they may soon be removing disability benefits from the people winning medals for Britain.’

    Paddy Murphy, a spokesperson from DPAC said:

    ‘ATOS receive hundreds of millions of pounds while many disabled people are being forced to live in abject poverty because of their decisions. By sponsoring the Paralympics, ATOS is trying to give the impression of supporting disabled people. Don’t be fooled. This is just another opportunity for them to ‘cash-in’. But we aren’t going to let them off the hook. We will make sure everyone knows what they are about

    We are challenging Atos in the courts, in parliament, online, on the streets and now at the Paralympics. The work capability assessment must end now.’

    Kat Templeton, a UK Uncut activist said:

    “Atos are spearheading the government’s attacks on welfare provision. This is about making ordinary people pay for a crisis caused by the bankers. It’s about making disabled people pay, instead of super-rich tax dodgers who cost us over £25billion every year. This is an ideological attack on the welfare state; these cuts are a political choice.”

    ENDS

    Notes to editors:

    [1] UK Uncut is a grassroots anti-cuts direct action network, well-known for targeting corporate tax avoidance: www.ukuncut.org

    [2] DPAC is a volunteer campaign network of and for disabled people campaigning for equality and human rights for all disabled people: www.dpac.uk.net/about

    [3] http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html

    [4] http://poultonblog.dailymail.co.uk/2012/03/people-are-choosing-suicide-to-escape-poverty-is-this-the-states-final-solution.html

    [5] http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/articles/britain-on-the-sick-reporter-feature

    [6] http://bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/2012/june/scrap-work-capability-assessment-doctors-demand

    http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/06/28/black-triangle-campaign-press-statement-demand-to-scrap-dwpatos-work-capability-assessment-with-immediate-effect-now-bma-policy/

    [7] http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/295

    [8] http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2012/07/26/judicial-review-of-work-capability-assessment-granted/

    [9] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jan/28/uk-uncut-protest-welfare-reforms

    [10] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-18219101

    [11] Events will be running from 27 to 31 August, contact DPAC for more details, or see here: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/07/our-atos-games/