Petition sent to Duncan Smith over disability assessments

The disabled people’s benefits assessment has once again come under fire, with the launch of a petition calling Iain Duncan Smith to stop the benefits re-assessment of people living with mental illness.

Rebecca Suner is a journalist from France who writes about politics and social issues on both sides of the Channel

The disabled people’s benefits assessment has once again come under fire, with the launch of a petition calling Iain Duncan Smith to stop the benefits re-assessment of people living with mental illness.

Dick Acworth, a retired vicar from Somerset backed by the charity Rethink Mental Illness, has already collected 3,000 signatures in just one day. Acworth’s son, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was recently found fit-to-work under the controversial Work Disability Assessment (WDA).

“If my son didn’t have parents to support him and push through a benefits appeal, I don’t know what he would have done. I really fear for other people who don’t have anyone to help them through such a difficult process,” Acworth said.

“It is intolerable that the government is putting people through so much stress and anxiety just to get the support they need. In many cases this unfair test is making people more ill.”

According to Rethink, 6,000 people living with mental illness are assessed every week, even though three judges rules in May that the process discriminated against people suffering from conditions such as autism.

The ‘fit-for-work’ tests are carried out by French company Atos Healthcare on behalf of the government, under a £100m a year contract. The assessments have fallen under intense criticism from campaign groups, doctors and MPs, who have condemned the companies’ “flawed” approach after terminally ill claimants were told they were fit to work.

38 per cent of cases are successfully overturned on appeal “casting doubt on the accuracy of [the departments’] decision-making,” according to a recent report by the public accounts committee.

A number of claimants have died before they could attend their appeal. That was the case for Larry Newman, who suffered from a degenerative lung condition, and Linda Wootton, who died just nine days after the government declared her ‘fit-to-work’.

It is not the first time a religious leader joins the widespread outrage at disabled people’s treatment by Atos and the government. Last month the Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia wrote to Iain Duncan Smith, accusing the benefits assessment system of “trampling on human dignity”.

In a letter addressed to the minister, the clergyman also questioned whether Atos was a suitable sponsor for the Commonwealth Games due to take place in Glasgow in 2014.

Paralympic organisers had come under fire of several campaign groups such as Disabled People Against the Cuts and Black Triangle last summer, over Atos’ involvement as one of the main sponsors of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

You can sign Dick Acworth’s petition to ‘Stop Unfair Fit-For-Work Test’ here.

One Response to “Petition sent to Duncan Smith over disability assessments”

  1. GeorgeMcF

    51,285 Signatures Is All That’s Needed To End #BedroomTAX
    & The War On Welfare Here http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154
    at 100K The Government are obliged to accept the Petition for open debate in
    the House of Commons which if you read the Responses to WOW Campaign at the Bottom
    you will see the Coalition are afraid to Perform a Cumulative Impact Assessment
    of Welfare Reform, Please Join the Campaign and Sign Thank You.

Leave a Reply