Big Issue readers have called for the government to terminate their contract with French firm ATOS, the company hired to conduct assessments of those claiming disability benefits.
The controversial government contract earns ATOS an estimated £400million of public money – despite mass reports of inaccurate testing methods. Last year 400,000 people disputed their ATOS test results.
Last week’s We’ve Got Our Eye on You column in the Big Issue magazine exposed the “patchy” ATOS disability assessment for people suffering mental health problems. Professor Malcolm Harrington, the man conducting an independent review of the disability assessments, found that mental health conditions were “poorly accounted for” in medical tests.
Writing in response to our article, several Big Issue readers volunteered their own accounts of the “fit-for-work” assessments conducted by ATOS.
“Many people with mental health problems have little confidence or stamina with which to fight this bureaucratic machine,” wrote in Big Issue reader Clive McLaren, who recently had his ATOS disability assessment verdict overturned at the Benefits Tribunal.
“The government are paying ATOS hundreds of millions of pounds to implement this very inefficient procedure, with thousands of these decisions being overturned. Why is the government pursuing such draconian and expensive measures that force unwell claimants into further poverty?"
Reader Carolyn Weighill wrote in to ask the Big Issue for advice on what she should do next. Carolyn’s disability allowance was cut in April this year after an ATOS assessor ruled that her severe back problem, which leaves her “in constant pain”, no longer qualified her for the benefit allowance.
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