Hundreds gathered outside US-based health service firm Maximus’ headquarters in London today (March 2) to protest the tick-box regime that robs disabled people of their rightful benefits entitlements.
Unite community joined the Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) demonstration in criticism against Work Capability Assessments (WCA), degrading tests carried out by profit-hungry firms on behalf of a government bent on starving the most vulnerable in society.
Maximus is set to take over the DWP’s contract to conduct the assessments, after Atos notoriously pulled outfollowing mounting public pressure and a growing list of failures.
In 2011, it’s been reported that more than 10,000 people died within six weeks of their Work Capability Assessments being conducted.
The demonstration in London was part of a wider national day of action against WCAs, with events being held up and down the country.
London’s demo—a circus-themed event—called the situation of Maximus taking over the Atos contract, “Same circus, different clowns.” Demonstrators played games mocking WCAs, in which people with obvious disabilities are found “fit to work”.
Unite community member Laura Sothern came from Ealing to fight against a system she believes is deeply unfair and barbaric.
“I’m here today because I’m aware of the number of deaths and suicides that have resulted from the government unfairly taking people’s benefits away,” she said. “Many people I know feel strongly about issues like this one, but are unable to come, perhaps because of mobility reasons, so I’m here on their behalf.”
One of the founding members of DPAC, Sam Brackenbury, argued that WCAs are part of an inherently broken system, one which will continue to fail no matter which firm takes on the contract.
“These WCAs are based on an American insurance company’s criteria,” he said. “They are designed specifically to take away what disabled people are entitled to. The vast majority of disabled people have worked; we’ve paid into the system. They’re taking away what’s rightfully ours.”
Brackenbury’s message for the day was one of defiance.
“You can do what you want to us, but if you think I’m going to die quietly, if you think I’m going to sit in a corner licking my wounds, you’re sadly mistaken.”
To find out more about DPAC’s work and how you can get involved, visit their website here.