Unite Supports Protests Against Sickness Benefit Tests

Unite Union Press Release:

Members of Unite Community, part of the UK’s largest trade union, will be supporting Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) in a national day of action against the government’s work capability assessments (WCA) and the corporation Maximus which has replaced Atos as the contractor to carry out the assessment of disabled people for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

American for profit corporation Maximus takes over WCAs on 1 March after previous contractor Atos pulled out of the contract following a hugely successful campaign which highlighted that WCAs were not fit for purpose and thousands of disabled people were put through huge hardship by a brutal tick-box regime that is designed to take people off benefits.


Unite equalities national officer Siobhan Endean said: “Unite disabled members are sending a message to Maximus. The company should realise it has taken up a poisoned chalice and pull out of this contract with the Con-Dem government.

“The dreaded work capability assessment costs lives. We supported disabled people in the campaign to convince Atos to withdraw from the WCA contract, we will continue to support disabled people in the campaign against the Maximus until the government scraps the work capability assessment and starts treating disabled people with dignity and justice.

“Maximus is taking over the WCA contract worth £500 million, meanwhile little has changed; Maximus will be based in the same inaccessible buildings and the fundamental flaws of the assessment remain the same. At the heart of these assessments is the Tory governments drive to take people off benefits with a brutal and humiliating tick-box regime.

“We are calling on this government to stop this degrading policy and introduce a fairer transparent single assessment, operated within the public sector that restores dignity to the sick and disabled.”

In 2013, in cases where people have been deemed fit to work, and had their benefits’ cut over 40 per cent have had their appeals upheld. However the appeals process can take months while some of the most vulnerable disabled are plunged into poverty.

The ‘tick-box’ nature of the tests does not cater for the complex nature of people’s illnesses, particularly for those with mental illness. This has also led in many cases to those with long term degenerative and terminal illnesses, such as Parkinson’s and cancer being told they were fit for work.

WHEN: Monday 2 March 2015.  

WHERE: See here.

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