Published: 18 October, 2013
by PETER GRUNER
NEW council leader Richard Watts dramatically moved a vote of no confidence last night (Thursday) in the company which carries out “demeaning and demoralising” tests to decide whether or not disabled people are fit to work.
Cllr Watts, speaking at the Town Hall executive committee meeting, slammed controversial independent assessor Atos, which has offices in Archway, as “part of an invidious system carrying out incompetent work” on behalf of the government.
His comments follow a council-led committee attack on government welfare policy towards disabled people – featured in the Tribune last month.
Cllr Watts will be formally protesting about the issue in a letter to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith.
He said: “It is our impression that assessors do not always have the required medical knowledge to judge whether or not someone is fit for work and ignore evidence of sickness or disability.
"Assessments appear to be a system of box ticking via a computer.”
The council report warned that thousands of Islington residents who have wrongly had benefit taken from them by Atos – only to have it restored on appeal – will have to go through the process again because of another set of changes.
Disability living allowance (DLA) is being replaced for working-age people by personal independence payments (PIP), meaning that all those on DLA will have to undergo yet another assessment by Atos.
The company has been criticised for judging people fit to work even though they have severe disabilities.
The committee found that a staggering 85 per cent of appeals are won when the council becomes involved and advises disabled people.