Forced to work 30 hours for no pay whatsover! #benefitreforms #ukmh #mhuk.
As what is beginning to look more and more like a war on claimants hots up, last month saw the introduction of a ‘forced labour’ scheme.
Many thousands of claimants will be obliged to work for up to 30 hours a week for a month for no wage whatsoever. There is no limit to the number of times claimants can be forced onto the scheme. Those who fail to comply will lose their benefits for 13 weeks for a first offence and 26 weeks for a second offence.
The scheme is aimed at JSA claimants, but with so many people likely to fail the new work capability assessment, that may well include thousands of sick and disabled claimants who are deemed not to be trying hard enough to move into work.
The propaganda war is also becoming more vicious and ill-informed as the DWP feeds easy to misinterpret figures to the press and then looks the other way as hate-provoking misinformation fills the tabloids.
For the claimants on the front-line, there’s s also the shocking news of the lack of disabled access at many Atos medical centres, which most claimants are obliged to attend for their work capability assessment. An astonishing one in five centres don’t have disabled access and Atos lists just one dedicated disabled parking space for the use of around a million claimants a year.
The government aren’t having it all their own way, however. Below is a quick round-up of anti-cuts actions over the coming month that you may want to support.
A national week of action against Atos is scheduled to begin on 9 May with a picnic and party in Triton Square*, home of their head office, at 2pm.
On May 11 thousands of disabled people, their friends and families will be holding a march and lobbying parliament to protest at cuts to benefits and services.
The Justice for All campaign, which is fighting to save free legal advice, is holding a day of action on 3 June, which they are hoping members of the public will take part in.
Radio 4’s You and Yours programme is working on a report about the work capability assessment which may at least present a more honest picture of what is really happening to sick and disabled claimants. As part of the feature they are hoping to talk an Atos health professional – anonymity assured. If you are one of the Atos staff who read this newsletter, why not contact You and Yours in confidence?
You and Yours are also hoping to hear from people who have received a reassessment letter and are awaiting a medical or who are appealing an ESA decision. More details here.
Elsewhere, a freelance journalist writing a piece on the forced migration from incapacity benefit to ESA for One in Four, a mental health service users magazine, is keen to hear from anyone who went through the Aberdeen or Burnley pilots or who is going through the reassessment process now.
To read this and more: