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Disability campaigners protest against fit-to-work tests outside Atos headquarters

WinVisible campaigner Claire Glasman (right) protesting outside the Atos HQ. Picture: Polly Hancock. WinVisible campaigner Claire Glasman (right) protesting outside the Atos HQ. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
4:03 PM

A Camden disability rights group led a protest today outside the headquarters of a company employed by the government to carry out controversial fit-to-work tests.

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Members of WinVisible, based in Kentish Town’s Crossroads Women’s Centre, protested with campaigners from across London outside the headquarters of multinational company Atos, in Triton Square, Regent’s Place, Euston.

The company’s health division is contracted by the government, as part of its extensive welfare reforms, to assess claimants for disability allowance on their level of disability and ability to work.

Campaigners outside the company’s HQ this morning claimed the company were “profiteering” out of people with disabilities and led chants of “Atos kills, shut it down!”

They claimed thousands of disabled people had died nationally after having their benefits stopped due to the introduction of the welfare reforms.

The protest began outside an Atos assessment centre based in Highgate Jobcentre, in Elthorne Road, Archway, around 8am before proceeding to the Atos HQ in Euston for 10am.

Campaigners then held a minute’s silence for disabled people who had passed away since the welfare changes.

An ATOS spokesman said: “We absolutely respect people’s right to peaceful protest and we are well aware that being assessed for benefit entitlement can be a difficult experience.

“However, lobbying against Atos Healthcare will have no impact on welfare policy. It is not, nor has it ever been, the role of Atos Healthcare to make decisions on who can or cannot receive benefits.

“We carry out assessments following strict guidelines and criteria written by government. For the parts of the process we are responsible for, we work hard to treat people with care and respect and constantly improve our service.”

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