This blog was created to offer support to disabled persons in receipt of Welfare Benefits. The whole ethos of the blog is to clearly identify the unfair and underhanded tactics used by the DWP and its enforcement arm ATOS Origin. The majority of disabled Benefit claimants do so because they are incapable of working and thus unable to support themselves and their families. We accept there is a minority of claimants who are abusing the system and do not condone their actions, in fact the opposite applies and we support attempts to reduce Benefit fraud as long as the methods used are fair and transparent.
In response to alleged large-scale “Welfare Benefit Fraud” the Government saw fit to introduce a medical assessment programme which was initially designed to assess the level of disability of individuals claiming sickness Benefit, and its subsequent effect upon their ability to work. This has since changed several times and is now known as “Work Capability Assessment”, this WCA is implemented and managed by a private company, ATOS Origin. It is our opinion the Assessment undertaken by Atos Healthcare Professionals is neither fair or reasonable, does not consider the effects of an individuals disability, does not meet the standards, or reflect the needs of any employer when considering prospective disabled job applicants and is simply an excuse to reduce the numbers of Sickness/Disability Benefit claimants.
ATOS Origin are a private sector company and are profit orientated. Their income is target based, as a result their alleged Healthcare Professionals are required to achieve a personal target. This often results in Benefit claimants being wrongly classed as fit for work under the standards laid down by ATOS and agreed by the DWP.
These academic standards do not take into account the individuals needs, thus the result of standardized testing is not everyone “fits” the template. Coupled with this, ATOS Origin currently employ Healthcare Professionals who are not fully qualified Doctors. These individuals have qualifications ranging from recently qualified Physiotherapists to retired specialist’s, the majority of HCP’s being made up of those with minor medical qualifications and retired G.P.’s, some of whom have a poor grasp of the English Language. These HCP’s undergo 3 days of training with ATOS Origin and are then introduced to the company via their in-house training programme. During their in-house training the HCP’s shadow existing HCP’s and are then allowed to “practice” solo.
In considering the above it is clear that ATOS Origin are the wrong “Type” of company to undertake these “assessments” as they are clearly a profit orientated private sector company. A direct result of this is that the company is profit motivated with no consideration of the rights of Welfare Benefit claimants.
ATOS Origin also train DWP Decision Makers in interpreting their HCP reports, this clearly represents a conflict of interest and simply encourages the DWP DM’s to fall on the side of the ATOS Origin HCP when awarding points to a claimants report.
With these points in mind we feel that the information given on this forum is reasonable. Whilst we do not condone Welfare Benefit Fraud we feel it is reasonable to forewarn potential Claimants of the actions of ATOS Origin and of the DWP Decision Makers and prepare them for the assessment prior to it taking place.
At present we believe the system currently in place is seriously flawed. The outcome of this is that large numbers of genuinely disabled Welfare Benefit Claimants are being classed as fit for work and put into a situation where they are forced to claim JSA just to get by. This puts genuine claimants in a difficult position as they are then required to sign a declaration which states they are fit and ready for work. This is an unacceptably biased system which clearly puts the claimant in a no win situation.
It is our intention to prepare every claimant we can prior to their assessment, we feel this action is legitimate as the system is seriously flawed from the outset. We therefore feel that any information we provide, which results in claimants gaining the required number of points to retain their Benefits is fully justified.
If and when a legitimate reform of the benefits system takes place, without prejudice we will welcome and support any input from independent Welfare Benefit Support Agencies not associated with the DWP or any other Government Department. We will also support consultation with Welfare Benefit claimants and the General Public and in taking this action hope to bring a fair and transparent system into being. It is essential to seek input from all parties in a fair and equitable manner whilst the Government develops its own reform proposal.
If and when a fair and transparent assessment system is introduced we will inform our readers accordingly.