A climate of fear / 17 January 2014
The climate of fear that is being generated by this government is making disabled people think twice before participating in any form of protest against their callous behaviour.
But protest we must as everything that we need in order to remain independent and to play a productive part in society is being eroded. The rights that we have fought long and hard to achieve are being systematically dismantled, taking us back to the time when we were shut away in institutions, abused and forgotten.
The next major action, which is being planned for 19th February and will target 144 Atos assessment centres across the UK, has been called to protest about the unacceptably high level of deaths of sick and disabled people following the assessment process.
Atos, the company hired by the Department of Works and Pension (DWP) to assess people who are claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is also facing claims of deliberately failing over 65% of claimants in order to meet government figures. This claim appears to be supported by the fact that approximately one in four of the claimants found to be fit for work by Atos have then had this decision overturned by the appeals tribunal. Interestingly the DWP continue to pay Atos even when their original assessment has been found to be wrong.
Talking to other disabled people about this Atos Protest I have discovered that many of us, especially those who have been, or are being made subject to the ESA assessment process, are frightened that they will be identified and therefore lose their entitlement to benefits if they do participate.
So, is it worth sticking your head above the parapet and joining with other disabled people to protest about this callous government and their draconian policies, or is it better to just keep your head down and try and absorb the punishment being meted out to us?
Or is it a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't?
What do others think?