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Investigate Atos and DWP for Corporate Manslaughter

I was pleasantly surprised by the news that Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas had been arrested because it is rare that politicians go to such lengths to take a principled stand.

Work Capability Assessments (WCA) existed prior to the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition but have been used aggressively by Tory Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions. Atos –a French multinational company contracted by the government- use WCA to assess approximately eleven thousand sick or disabled people a week in order to find them “fit for work” or indeed move them onto the new ESA benefit. You can read more about Work Capability Assessments here.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) responded, on July 9th 2012, to a couple of information requests; Michael Meacher MP then used these figures, which are frankly terrifying, in a speech in the House of Commons in January this year. The DWP report states that “[i]n total between January 2011 and November 2011, some 10,600 claims ended and a date of death was recorded within six weeks of the claim end”. Over ten thousand people have died within six weeks of their claim ending. I would argue that the sheer numbers of people dying so soon after their benefits have stopped warrants further investigation.

In order for there to be a case of corporate manslaughter to be answered only one of these deaths need to have been caused by serious management failings of either the Department of Work and Pensions and/or Atos. Personally, I think the case of Brian McArdle is one such death that merits further investigation. Obviously I do not have access to the full evidence –which is why I cannot make an accusation- but what is available is startling: “He was… paralysed down his left side, unable to speak properly, blind in one eye and barely able to eat or dress… The day after his benefits were stopped, Brian collapsed and died in the street near his home in Larkhall, Lanarkshire. He had suffered a heart attack” (from Daily Record article, previous link).


If you have lost a loved one you may want to consider forwarding the details of their death and case to Canadian Disability Rights campaigner Samuel Miller. His email address is at the bottom of this piece about other legal challenges to the Work Capability Assessment. Please read the article carefully.

If you have a view on Work Capability Assessments, or indeed any other matter, you may find WriteToThem a useful website. It allows you to email your MP and other political representatives.

Alternatively, you can let us know what you think of Work Capability Assessments by leaving a reply. Should Atos or DWP be investigated? For corporate manslaughter? Please comment below.

[Edited 27/8/2013]

3 responses to “Investigate Atos and DWP for Corporate Manslaughter”

  1. polly says:

    That’s shocking!obviously not all these deaths can be attributed to benefit cuts but I believe some definitely are, like the case you’ve mentioned. Well done for highlighting this. Keep up the good work.

  2. S Griffiths says:

    I am a voluntary caseworker for a Forces charity.
    Disgraceful is the only word to describe both the actions of IDS and his policies, and the bizarre and biased medical assessments at ATOS, a company making millions by persecuting the sick and disabled.
    I see people worried sick after being knocked off benefits by the DWP, and these ex servicemen and women who have served their country.
    No benefit or any other income, they accrue priority debt for rent and council tax arrears, utility bills and often have no money for food or clothing,and afraid to heat their homes in winter.
    The reports of excessive deaths as a result of the withdrawal of people’s benefits doesn’t surprise me in the least, often disabled people find themselves feeling suicidal and not wanting to live any more, such is their sheer despair.
    You can write to IDS and the Prime minister as I have about Atos and their attitude,you get no reply, and it doesn’t make one bit of difference to them, they are millionaires and they could not care two hoots.
    All they do is class disabled and sick people as a liability on the state, and IDS would get you back to work if your head was hanging off, the man simply has no compassion for anyone.
    I am truly disgraced by this Government actions, ‘we are all in this together’ says the P.M.MY LEFT FOOT WE ARE!
    Disabled and sick people are treated dispicably by this Government, and any action to alter their bias would be welcome.

    • William says:

      Good to hear from you, S Griffiths. It’s great that you’ve gone to the bother of writing to politicians to express your views; I’m saddened that your objections have not received a reply but not surprised given the politicians in question. Many MP’s have raised objections though, and your experience supporting ex-service personnel might be very useful to them -in particular if you are able to make them aware of individual cases where there has been provable wrong-doing by Atos or DWP then they can refer to the details of that case publicly. If enough public pressure was put on IDS and his benefits agenda about an individual case, the Crown Prosecution Service might be forced to investigate. What do you think?