Protest closes Wimbledon office and attracts riot police

Wimbledon Guardian: The small protest saw Atos close its office and riot police called out The small protest saw Atos close its office and riot police called out

Campaigners fighting over changes to benefits shut down an office and attracted police attention during a peaceful protest yesterday morning.

The demonstration was outside Wimbledon's Atos Healthcare centre in the Broadway, where the Government's "fit for work" assessments are carried out for people receiving disability allowance.

Protestors gathered at assessment centres across the country demanding an end to the test they claim sends many disabled people to work for which they are not fit.

Adam Lotun, who organised the Wimbledon protest, said: "I have had two assessments with Atos. One said I was not fit for work and the other said I was not able to receive benefits when I am in a wheelchair and have been claiming benefits for six years.

"We have had people going to the assessment and having a heart attack due to stress and nothing was done for them. This can't go on."

A group of just four campaigners who turned up for the 8am start said they were surprised to find themselves outnumbered by riot police.

Mr Lotun said: "Two riot vans were there. Why do you need riot vans in Wimbledon outside the office where disabled people are?

"Two officers said they were there in case somebody wants to hijack the protest."

Campaigners said they were also surprised Atos chose to close their offices for the day.

A spokesperson for Atos Healthcare said: "We absolutely respect people’s right to peaceful protest and we are well aware that being assessed for benefit entitlement can be a difficult experience.

"However, lobbying against Atos Healthcare will have no impact on welfare policy. It is not, nor has it ever been, the role of Atos Healthcare to make decisions on who can or cannot receive benefits.

"We carry out assessments following strict guidelines and criteria written by Government. For the parts of the process we are responsible for, we work hard to treat people with care and respect and constantly improve our service."


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Comments (3)

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5:16pm Thu 20 Feb 14

Hove Ex-Pat says...

" It is not, nor has it ever been, the role of Atos Healthcare to make decisions on who can or cannot receive benefits." Said an ATOS Spokesperson. What an almighty load of spherical objects. ATOS have caused claimants who cannot move, or speak, or even attend hearings, to have benefits stopped for them & their families. Some ATOS Centres have been placed at the top of office blocks. If you cannot get there you lose for non attendance, if you manage to get there, you are fit for work & benefit stopped. One possibly unexpected outcome of the protest however, could be that anyone who did not attend an appointment, due to ATOS closing, will find that their benefit will be stopped.
" It is not, nor has it ever been, the role of Atos Healthcare to make decisions on who can or cannot receive benefits." Said an ATOS Spokesperson. What an almighty load of spherical objects. ATOS have caused claimants who cannot move, or speak, or even attend hearings, to have benefits stopped for them & their families. Some ATOS Centres have been placed at the top of office blocks. If you cannot get there you lose for non attendance, if you manage to get there, you are fit for work & benefit stopped. One possibly unexpected outcome of the protest however, could be that anyone who did not attend an appointment, due to ATOS closing, will find that their benefit will be stopped. Hove Ex-Pat

9:50pm Sat 22 Feb 14

sandi64 says...

So ATOS do not make the decision? Well excuse me ATOS, you DO make the decisions or at the very least influence the decision makers outcome of the assessment. The decision makers at DWP are not doctors and they rely on what is written in the reports made by ATOS. You write on the reports whether a person will be fit enough now or in three months or not at all etc. Only the not at all fit for work hardly ever gets put in the report because ATOS get extra premiums for getting people of benefits. SO STOP TELLING OUT AND OUT LIES, you bunch of lying scumbags.
So ATOS do not make the decision? Well excuse me ATOS, you DO make the decisions or at the very least influence the decision makers outcome of the assessment. The decision makers at DWP are not doctors and they rely on what is written in the reports made by ATOS. You write on the reports whether a person will be fit enough now or in three months or not at all etc. Only the not at all fit for work hardly ever gets put in the report because ATOS get extra premiums for getting people of benefits. SO STOP TELLING OUT AND OUT LIES, you bunch of lying scumbags. sandi64

9:52pm Sat 22 Feb 14

Whelk Doctor says...

Not only does the incompetence of this company result in appalling hardship for the most vulnerable of our society, but the cost to the economy is enormous when one takes into account the extra work Doctors have to put in, helping their patients appeal the decisions that this company are being paid £100+ million per year to get right. How it can be good for the British taxpayer to give all this money to a French company and have it removed from our economy is beyond my comprehension.
Not only does the incompetence of this company result in appalling hardship for the most vulnerable of our society, but the cost to the economy is enormous when one takes into account the extra work Doctors have to put in, helping their patients appeal the decisions that this company are being paid £100+ million per year to get right. How it can be good for the British taxpayer to give all this money to a French company and have it removed from our economy is beyond my comprehension. Whelk Doctor

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