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Disability rights campaigners protested outside the Atos assessment centre in Wolverhampton this morning, calling for fairer treatment of disability benefit claimants.
The protest was one of 144 taking place across the country against the private company which is responsible for assessing whether people are fit to work or entitled to receive disability benefit allowance.
The government argues the system helps millions of people off benefit and back into work.
But campaigners have pointed out that the government’s own figures show 10,600 people died within six weeks of being declared ‘fit for work’ by Atos, last year.
Protester Bob Williams-Findlay, a Wolverhampton University Equality Training Officer said: “The system used by Atos only measures certain aspects of someone’s capability to work.
“Some people with disabilities like me can work but only when a good employer addresses their needs.
“Atos is making huge profits. The system needs changing not the welfare state.”
Nick Kelleher, Secretary of Wolverhampton Trades Union council, said people who had lost their benefits following a an appeal to Atos were now in some cases, were relying on charities to survive.
He said: “They have no benefits and are relying on food banks.
“People should be assessed on their abilities and needs and given help to live their lives as best they can.”
He said the government was intent on cutting the benefits bill but insisted it was small percentage of overall spending.
He added: “They should be going after big companies that don’t pay their fair share of tax.”
pic: Red Dugmore
– This article was published in the Morning Star national newspaper: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-9b2e-Disability-campaigners-target-benefit-assessment-centre#.UwY9G_l_vqA