MSPs hear company linked to deaths of disabled claimants should be dropped from Commonwealth Games sponsorship. A PETITION to the Scottish Parliament calling on the organising Committee of the 2014 Commonwealth Games to drop the ATOS sickness benefits assessment company as the games sponsors has been heard by MSPs at Holyrood earlier this week. ATOS has been linked in the media to the deaths of hundreds of Scots & thousands of the disabled, ill, vulnerable & the elderly across the UK.
The petition calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the organising Committee to drop ATOS as a sponsor for the 2014 Commonwealth Games because ATOS have taken disability and sickness benefits away from poor and vulnerable people, reducing them to penury and extreme poverty.
The petition further states that “In addition, many people have died before the ATOS Fit for Work Assessment has been completed. The practices of this company are not compatible with Scottish social democratic values and therefore we call on the Petitions Committee to put our case to the Scottish Parliament so that the Parliament can reflect the opinions of many people in Scotland that ATOS be dropped as a sponsor for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.”
Speaking to MSPs on Tuesday of this week, Sean Clerkin, and Iain MacInnes, Secretary, Glasgow against ATOS, gave evidence to msps on the practices of the ATOS company contracted by the Westminster ConDem coalition to cut benefits spending. ATOS have been widely linked in the media to deaths involving disability victims after they had been judged fit for work and had their benefits taken away.
Petitioner Sean Clerkin told MSPs he believed Atos were "contract killers" who were "not fit" to sponsor the 2014 Commonwealth Games, on 18 March 2014. Mr Clerkin's petition calls for the Scottish Parliament to urge the 2014 Commonwealth Games' organising committee to drop IT company Atos as a sponsor. He told the Public Petitions Committee the company, who assess whether benefits claimants are fit to work, were a "toxic brand".
Last month Atos confirmed it was seeking to end its government contract. Disability campaigners have described the work tests as "ridiculously harsh and extremely unfair". Mr Clerkin said it was disappointing no MSPs, apart from the convener David Stewart, asked any questions about the petition. Iain MacInnes from Glasgow against Atos also gave evidence.
After hearing the petitioners, the Committee agreed to write to the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, ATOS, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Disability Sport, the Department for Work and Pensions and sportscotland.
Scottish Law Reporter has previously reported on difficulties in the benefits system, where it was revealed in an earlier report of the deaths of over ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE who had been declared ‘fit for work’ as a direct result of ‘fitness for work tests carried out by ATOS on the orders of the Conservative Liberal-Democrat Coalition Government in Westminster. Further reports on ATOS are HERE
In November 2012 The People's Review of the Work Capability Assessment was published by the Spartacus network of disability researchers and campaigners.
This supplementary report of December 2013, which Ekklesia is pleased to make available and endorse, contains further compelling evidence of the need for change.
After introducing the issues and the annual reviews of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), it documents the reality for those directly impacted: deaths and suicides; accounts from MPs and advisers; the direct experience of sick and disabled people; views expressed by medical and other professionals; opinions from public bodies,;views expressed by Church leaders; and views expressed by charities and Disabled People’s Organisations.
The report then looks at the policy context: the UK’s human rights obligations under UN conventions; monitoring of standards; the financial cost of the WCA; contractual and audit issues; work-related obligations and sanctions; training of WCA assessors; progress on the audio recording of assessments; the long-delayed 'Gold Standard' Evidence Based Review; the Court of Appeal ruling that the WCA is discriminatory; a final summary and conclusion. (72pp., PDF format)