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.