In the UK, the Freedom of Information Act allows people to ask questions of public bodies. One such question put to the government by anti-disability discrimination campaigners, asked between January and November 2011, how many people have died after being assessed by ATOS as being ‘fit for work’ in a six week period since their assessment?
In 2010, there were just 310 deaths of people on health-related benefits. The answer supplied by the DWP to the FOI request was 10,600 deaths. This graphically illustrates the stress and financial impact that disabled people are suffering from as a result of government outsourcing and a target-driven culture that does not meet people’s needs, but only seeks to cut costs, in this case even at the cost of human life.
Northamptonshire Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) highlighted this fact on a banner on a protest this week at Leicester Clocktower. Leicester Socialist Party members joined the protest, along with campaigners from Leicester Occupy movement, and faith groups. We heard of some of the tragic details of those who had died, including a disabled couple who had committed suicide, as they were destitute. They were found together in their home with no electricity, food or heating. See more here – http://andreaurbanfox.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/victims-of-dwp-and-atos/
We call for an end to ATOS assessments. We call for democratic decision making and the involvement of disabled people themselves. We call for decent benefits to allow disabled people to lead as independent a life as possible. All outsourced services should be brought back under the remit of a democratically-controlled, publicly- funded NHS. The ideal of universal healthcare is rapidly being demolished under the present Government’s Health and Social Care Act, while New Labour introduced the ‘reforms’ – Foundation Trusts, PFI and outsourcing, which made these attacks on our healthcare system possible in the first place.
We are campaigning for Leicester Council to refuse to implement the discriminatory and unfair bedroom tax, which affects disabled people disproportionately – around two thirds of the tenants affected by this tax are disabled – they often need a spare room due for a carer or for equipment due to their disability.
“You can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens”.
“From each according to their means, to each according to their needs”.