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‘ATOS Discriminates Against Disabled People- And The DWP Allow It’

July 29, 2014

With many thanks to the Welfare Neews Service and Mr John Lockett.

 

I became aware of your website last year and have been a weekly visitor ever since. I myself have been experiencing the joy of Atos – and now the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – for over a year now.

Leaving aside that I was wrongly assigned to the ‘Work-Related’ Activity Group (WRAG) and had my case illegally sent for Mandatory Reconsideration by the DWP, those may be stories for another time.

My immediate concern is the fact that DWP allowed Atos to blatantly discriminate against disabled people and yet refused to acknowledge this, let alone actually do anything about it! It is now clear why – they are indulging in this themselves.

When I was first contacted by Atos, I made clear that, due to fatigue caused by my disabilities, that I must sleep in the afternoon. Atos continually sent me afternoon appointments and despite DWP being copied to any correspondence, I never heard from them on the matter.

Eventually, after two formal complaints, Atos finally sent me a morning appointment which was cancelled shortly thereafter and the process promptly began again! Again, deafening silence from the DWP.

When I pointed out to Atos that they were calling people for assessments they knew to be disabled and yet provided no disable parking, they responded by stating that disabled parking was available in the street immediately outside the centre.

When I again challenged this and provided photographic evidence that it was a lie, they lied again and essentially re-stated the original lie. Again, deafening silence from the DWP.

As stated above, DWP have been copied into all correspondence between myself and Atos yet, when I received the appointment letter for Jobcentre Plus this was not only for four days hence (two of which were a weekend) at a time of year when many people are away on holiday, but yet another afternoon appointment.

I immediately telephoned and explained (again) why a morning appointment was necessary and they sent me yet another afternoon appointment. It took a formal and quite strong letter before I received a suitable appointment.

I have not been in a Jobcentre since 1995 when DWP or whatever it was called at the time, gave me a little green card and classified me as disabled.

My local Jobcentre has, I believe moved twice since then. I had to attend my first WRAG (Work Related Activity Group) interview this morning and, despite having written three times to ‘Marion’ at the Burnley Jobcentre, they have provided no details as to the location (other than the postal address) and no details on parking availability at all, let alone parking for disabled drivers.

That aside, the visit was actually a pleasant surprise as ‘Marion’ patiently explained to me that I was now in the Support Group and that it would be unnecessary for me to visit again for three years! In that hour, I received more information that was actually relevant to my case and more sensibly explained than any other thus far. I do however, as I explained to her, intend to pursue the discrimination issue.

To minimise the chance of error and lateness, I located the Jobcentre on a map and went out early yesterday (Sunday) morning to locate and scout the location and found that:

  • The entrance to the Jobcentre is not on the street stated in the postal address, but another street, which provides no on-street parking whatsoever, let alone for disabled people.
  • The street stated in the postal address is, at its closest more than thirty metres from the entrance to the building and, while there is parking available on this street, it is usually all taken unless one is very early or lucky.
  • The building itself has a car park which has two disabled spaces, but this is controlled by a keypad and barrier and appears to be for staff only. The car park to the east of the building is contract parking only on weekdays.

How simple would it have been for them to have answered my queries on this or to have taken Atos to task for their failure? Yet in their arrogance, incompetence or both, the DWP appear to believe that the Equalities Act and Disability Discrimination Act do not apply to them.

You might ask: Why hasn’t he contacted his MP? I have, and not only has he proven to be of less practical use than a unicycle, he does not even bother to respond, but then he is a Lib-Dem and part of the odious coalition who compounded this Labour-initiated mess.

You might also ask: Why hasn’t he contacted the Equalities Office? I have, three times. The last time I directed the complaint to the principal Minister (now ex-Minister) Sajid Javid, castigating him for his Ministry’s failure to respond. Not even an acknowledgement was received at any time.

Regards,

Mr John Lockett

 

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    July 29, 2014 12:02 pm

    ATOS and the DWP appear to be above the law. I was told that I could not attend the ATOS Assessment centre situated in a DWP leased building in the centre of a major Midlands city as I was a health and safety risk. Their office was on the first floor. After 4 months and promises of a home assessment I was put into the support group without a face to face assessment. Shortly after this reports in the local paper told of a wheelchair user turning up to be assessed only to be turned away. This annoyed me considering the DWP and ATOS and who ever takes over from them assumes that businesses all comply with the Equality Act and have premises suitable for manual wheelchair use. It will assess those with mobility difficulties who do not have a wheelchair as having one, being able to propel one and get to a work place and around it with one unless you happen to have an electric chair then you go into the support group for scoring 15 points.
    I wrote to my very helpful Tory MP, who passed my concerns on to the then junior Works and pensions minister. I did get a long reply . It was interesting but clearly the minister or civil servant thought it was simply a matter of asking the claimant to travel to another ATOS assessment centre that was on the ground floor and took no more than 45 minutes by public transport. Clearly the minister has never tried to travel in a wheelchair on inaccessible buses, trains that may or may not have a wheelchair space not filled with buggies or luggage, or possibly another wheelchair user, and that assistance will turn up to get you off or on.
    I have heard of people sent from Birmingham to Cardiff and Leicester to Nottingham. One was so exhausted on arrival after struggling on public transport as they refused to provide transport that ATOS refused to see them and they ended up in A &E only to have to repeat the whole thing.

    I wish you look challenging ATOS and DWP for failing to make reasonable adjustment, but the Equality Act has many loopholes .

  2. July 29, 2014 2:04 pm

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  3. July 29, 2014 2:04 pm

    A friend of mine who is a double amputee went for an accessment at our local job center. He was told that the person he was to see was upstairs, the DWP worker hadn’t noticed that he was in a chair. I can go up in the lift he suggests not possible due to health and safety he was told. Yet the still want him to think about working!!!
    What planet are these people on.

  4. July 29, 2014 2:23 pm

    A nice article to aware people across world about “ATOS Discriminates Against Disabled People”. Will inform my friends and family about this. Thanks!

  5. jeffrey davies permalink
    July 29, 2014 4:02 pm

    i still laughing yes it one big joke has sarah above my wife had numerous appointments for the atossers assessment but they kept putting them off and best of all when she finaly got one she phoned to tell them she was disabled whopes cant use that lift so all in all they sent twice the distance to another jcp centre were there was a long walk to that centre but daughter was going with her so i phoned and asked about disable people couldnt they accomadate her localy my answer back from rtu and atos was that wife didnt use any aids to walk whot planet are these people on even rtu ids used the atos report that said that no aids were used well her doctor wrote to ever it concerns but i dont hold my breath you see they all in together to get one ftw besides going there always always always have it recorded has it will tone their lies down a little bit yep at atos theyl have you walking on water jeff3

  6. July 29, 2014 6:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  7. tony permalink
    July 30, 2014 1:24 pm

    i also suffered something much similar at the hands of atos/dwp and i actually started the process for a claim of disbilty discrimination in the county court. unfortunately as i was preparing the documents the government changed the rules on court fee exemptions for benefit claimants so i could no longer afford it!

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