What difference will replacing ATOS make?

ATOS Kills

SAME OLD STORY: ATOS may have been replaced by Maximus, but they are just another global company that profits from misery. (Photo: Simon Whittle)

by Sandra Webster, SSP national co-spokesperson In October of last year, ATOS—much loved by campaigners against the work capability assessments—announced they would be exiting their contract with the ConDems government early. They had always been held in disrepute for their role in helping to carry out the ConDems blitzkrieg on people with disabilities, also known as welfare reform. The whip has been handed over to a new company Maximus. Like ATOS, Maximus are a global company. Their website speaks of their presence in Canada, Saudi Arabia and the USA.

They are another company who prosper in times of austerity. Making their profit from the misery of many, and all for a price, of course—Maximus expect to receive between £590million and £650million from the UK government over the next three years.

Maximus claim they will make more time to listen to those being assessed. They have recruited Sue Marsh whose blog, Diary Of A Benefit Scrounger, described her inability to work due to a debilitating illness. Many people with disabilities feel let down by her actions. Especially those deemed fit to work by her new employers.

Maximus have already started working in Scotland. I spoke to someone who has recently attended a PIP assessment in Glasgow. He says he felt as if words were being put into his mouth. Six weeks later he is still awaiting the results of his assessments. Iain Duncan Smith claims the moves towards Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and the work capability assessments are not about money. They are.

He also had an epiphany after speaking to Bob Holman in Easterhouse about making work pay. Holman later spoke out about the abuse of this conversation. The realities for those of us living in Easterhouse and Glenburn is there are no jobs to take us out of poverty. Instead we are punished for being poor.

Stuart Hall said culture is a mirror of our society. How many disabled actors, musicians indeed MPs and MSPs do we have? In the dark winter of austerity people with disabilities the most vulnerable are being targeted more and more. They have no need of tin hats full body armour would be much more sufficient.

That is why I support One in Five, a new campaign group challenging political parties to ensure that people with disabilities have the support to get involved in politics. Our party should be proud of our policies on disability but like all other parties, we can help smash down the walls that prevent politics being more accessible for all.

This also includes hidden disabilities such as learning disabilities. Access is much more than wheelchair access. Our party has a proud history of encouraging and enabling stigmatised groups and most importantly giving them a voice.

I feel these voices will be crucial to changing others perspectives of how to perceive people with disabilities. This will challenge the propaganda of the ConDems as people with disabilities being skivers. Rather than patting folk on the head let’s give them a hand up and let them be listened to.

The ConDems will continue with their war on the poor and give millions to global companies who “service” diabled people. We need a better way. The Smith Commission promised devolved powers on disability benefits to Holyrood. That is two years away and too long for many to wait. The campaign must begin now. Let’s offer an alternative.

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  1. What difference will replacing ATOS make? | SandraSSP
  2. What difference will replacing ATOS make? | Scottish Socialist Voice - The People's Republic of Clydebank

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