Protest in Chester over work fitness tests

Published date: 20 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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CAMPAIGNERS gathered to protest against controversial fitness for work tests for disabled benefit claimants.

Dozens of disabled people and supporters gathered outside the ATOS assessment centre, at the junction of Foregate Street and City Road, as part of the national protest against the Government commissioned ATOS assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Protester Richard Atkinson, 58, led the campaign in Chester. He joined campaigners in calling for the abolition of the work capability tests, stating they were “unfair”.

He is a former welfare rights officer diagnosed with multiple sclerosis eight years ago. He had to finish work three years ago.

He told the Leader: “We need these work capability assessments ruled out, abolished. They are unreasonable and under and over estimate people’s work capability.

“Some people with disabilities can’t work, and some can and they need assistance. 

“There is no support structure in place. The tests are carried out and then people are abandoned with no support. There are plenty of things that disabled people can do aside from employment but the government are only interested in narrow paid employment.”

Reports suggest the Government might soon terminate its contract with controversial firm ATOS which currently carries out the “fitness for work” tests on disabled benefit claimants.

There have been questions over the application of such tests, with claims people are being wrongly recommended for work or put through stressful medical interviews.

Martin Jenkins, a support worker for people with learning disabilities, said he assisted someone who was in line for a work capability assessment. He argued the correct medical criteria was not in place for such tests.

He said: “The assessments are not medically based. They are not helping people they are merely persecuting people. There is no support mechanism. People find it quite stressful and become anxious at having to complete an assessment.”

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  1. Posted by: Whelkface at 00:03 on 21 February 2014 Report

    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.


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