Disability protest held at Cardiff bank

Some protesters remained in the bank, while others congregated outside Photo: Viewer's picture/Jamie Insole

A protest has been held in Cardiff against links between the Cooperative Bank and the company that carries out Work Capability Tests for the Department of Work and Pensions.

Disabled people seeking to qualify for the Incapacity Benefit in the UK are currently assessed by the international company ATOS Healthcare.

The protesters claim the 'fit-to-work' assessments are "damaging and distressing" to those undergoing them.

Last month, ATOS told ITV Wales the Work Capability Assessments it carried out were 'in line with the policy and guidelines laid down by the UK Government.'

The Co-operative is proud of its excellent record on championing the cause of disabled people – whether through the provision of employment opportunities, or via community projects and fund-raising.

As a health service provider, ATOS is used by a number of UK companies. We took them on in 2009 to provide us with recommendations on how we can best support people with disabilities or sickness in the workplace.

Atos provide us with occupational health reports, working within parameters set by us.

Our contract with Atos is not linked to their contract with the DWP and nor does it use the same assessment criteria.

We do not force our employees to undergo occupational health assessments with Atos and where appropriate we will contact other healthcare professionals.

– Co-operative Group spokesperson

The Department for Work and Pensions first awarded Atos the contract for assessments in 1998.

This was renewed for seven years in 2005 and extended for three years in 2010 through to 2015.