A Labour MP has launched an attempt to get the House of Commons to debate the £100m-a-year contract awarded to Atos to carry out work capability assessments of people applying for Employment and Support Allowance – which he claims has led to the deaths of 1,100 claimants put in the category for compulsory work-related activity.
In an Early Day Motion tabled last Thursday, John McDonnell (Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington) also praised the British Medical Association whose Annual Representative Conference last week called for the work capability assessment to be scrapped immediately and to be replaced with a system that does not harm the most vulnerable people in society.
His motion also includes condemnation of the decision to allow Atos to sponsor the Paralympics which follow the London Olympic Games and, for good measure, Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the Games themselves.
Dow took over the Union Carbide company whose plant at Bhopal, India, leaked methyl isocyanate gas in 1984 – leading to the deaths and injury of thousands of people in the vicinity. The event was one of the world's worst industrial disasters.
On July 3, the Early Day Motion – EDM 295 – started to gather support from non-Coalition MPs.
Date tabled: 28.06.2012
Primary sponsor: McDonnell, John
That this House deplores that thousands of sick and disabled constituents are experiencing immense hardship after being deprived of benefits following a work capability assessment carried out by Atos Healthcare under a 100 million a year contract; notes that 40 per cent of appeals are successful but people wait up to six months for them to be heard; deplores that last year 1,100 claimants died while under compulsory work-related activity for benefit and that a number of those found fit for work and left without income have committed or attempted suicide; condemns the International Paralympic Committee's promotion of Atos as its top sponsor and the sponsorship of the Olympics by Dow Chemical and other corporations responsible for causing death and disability; welcomes the actions taken by disabled people, carers, bereaved relatives and organisations to end this brutality and uphold entitlement to benefits; and applauds the British Medical Association call for the work capability assessment to end immediately and to be replaced with a system that does not cause harm to some of the most vulnerable people in society.