Atos bring ‘bad news to the poor’
The following news release was issued this morning (30.08.12).
Atos bring ‘bad news to the poor’ say Christian campaigners
A Christian network has backed nonviolent direct action against Atos, asponsor of the Paralympics with a record of throwing thousands ofdisabled people off benefits. Supporters of Christianity Uncut arejoining protests against Atos this week, including one at the company’s offices in London tomorrow (Friday 31 August).
Atos is accused of wrongly declaring people to be fit for work to meetgovernment goals of slashing the welfare bill.
The company has £3.1bn of government contracts. Over 40% of appealsagainst Atos decisions are upheld, suggesting the company is either incompetent or deliberately conducting biased assessments. However, legal aid for most appeals will be scrapped from April. At least 43 doctors and nurses working for Atos have been reported toprofessional regulators for misconduct. There are countless stories of people being forced to miss meals or turn off heating after having benefits cut.
Christianity Uncut pointed out that Jesus said he had come to “bring good newsto the poor”. They urged churches to take sides with the poorest members of society who are losing out most from cuts while the veryrich remain largely unaffected. They backed the groups DisabledPeople Against Cuts (DPAC) and UK Uncut, who are organisingtomorrow’s action in London, named the “Closing Atos Ceremony”.
Sian, a disabled Catholic who was assessed by Atos, said:
“I have a cross over my bed and was asked by the Atos doctor if I go to church. She said she was asking this because I should have freedom ofreligion and be able to go to church. She lied. She wrote ‘claims cannot leave house even to church’. She was checking to see if I was’really’ disabled. I had my Disability Living Allowance stopped.”
Symon Hill, a Christian writer and associate director of the Ekklesia thinktank, said he would be at the protest at the Atos offices in London tomorrow. He explained:
“Jesus said he had come to bring good news to the poor. Atos bring bad news to the poor. David Cameron is welcoming the Paralympics while snatching away the livelihood of thousands of disabled people. Ministers could save billions by cracking down on corporate tax-dodging and ditching Trident, instead of attacking the poorest members of society. Many Christians recognise that there can be no neutrality in the face of injustice. Now is the time to act on that conviction.”
- Christianity Uncut is an informal network of Christians campaigning against the UK government’s cuts agenda and the injustices of capitalism. We are inspired by Jesus, who took nonviolent direct action in the Jerusalem Temple in solidarity with people who are poor, exploited and marginalised.
- The London protest, named the ‘Closing Atos Ceremony’, will take place at 12.45pm on Friday 31 August at Atos HQ, Triton Square, London NW1 3HG. It has been organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and UK Uncut. For more information, please see http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions/904. There are a range of other protests taking place against Atos elsewhere in the UK. Please see http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions.
- The level of complaints to professional regulators about doctors and nurses working for Atos was reported by the Independent newspaper yesterday (29 August). Please see http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/paralympics/paralympic-sponsor-engulfed-by-disability-tests-row-8084799.html?origin=internalSearch.
- Christianity Uncut was founded in 2011. During the eviction of Occupy London Stock Exchange, five members of the group were dragged by police from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral as they knelt in prayer. It has recently been revealed that they were misled by the cathedral authorities about the cathedral’s role in the eviction. Please see https://christianityuncut.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/police-letter-reveals-st-pauls-misled-public-over-occupy-eviction.