1 August 2012

Should We Blame ATOS?

Today I have read a blog post where the author basically suggests disability campaign groups are wrong to go after ATOS to the extent that they are, and that ATOS are only the IT company in charge of a system put in place by the DWP and they are the ones we should really be targetting. I've also seen several leading disability campaigners openly support this view, and even not support DPAC's protests at the Paralympics (which are being sponsored by ATOS).

I do agree with this argument to an extent, we do need to clearly target the people behind this assessment process, and not just ATOS. I thought we had been from day one though? We have constantly lobbied the government and named the ministers responsible for this crisis as well as targeting ATOS.

But the defense "we are only doing what the government/DWP is telling us to do" is an empty one in my view. Wasn't it also the defense many NAZI's also used when being tried after WW2 was over? "we were only obeying orders"? Recent documentaries that used secret filming have shown us that ATOS assessors are having crisis's of conscience over the process, they cope by blaming it on "the decision maker" (which sounds incredibly Orwellian to me). I think these individuals need to be made to take responsibility for their own actions, they could speak out even if it is anonymously, or they could quit their jobs and find another one. At least the NAZI's had the defense that they would have been executed if they disobeyed Hitler's orders, no one is going to shoot an ATOS assessor for walking out and saying "I can't do this anymore".

When a disabled person goes to one of these assessments their life and quality of life is in this persons hands, the decision maker makes their decision based on what box these people tick. In my case after examining the criteria I can clearly see 3 places my assessor should have awarded me points and failed to, and I appealing their decision. All I wanted was to be put in the work related activity group where I would receive the help and support I need to get back into work after 10 years of unemployment. Just one year to give me a fighting chance of finding a job I can reliably do with enough hours to support myself and some kind of support system that ensures I do not lose my job if I become ill again for a short period, and I would stick my middle finger up to the DWP and never claim again. But they did not give me that, they only awarded me 6 points, and I was lucky to get that by all accounts. I have the support to be able to make an appeal which I am confident I will win, but many others don't. Many people will not be able to act when they receive that dreadful letter saying they have been turned down for ESA, they will just sink into despair and lose everything, end up homeless and destitute. Some will harm themselves or even kill themselves alone, they may not be found for days or even months.

So I'm sorry but I say YES we should and must blame ATOS, we must blame everyone responsible for this horrific mess. If anything we need to focus more of our attention on the organ grinders and not the monkeys, but we must not give in and let up in our campaigns against ATOS to gain sympathy from the right wingers. We must continue to target every one of them, and not rest until they ALL are bought to justice.


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