Protest in Cardiff over tests for incapacity benefit

Credit: ITV News Wales

A group of protesters will demonstrate in Cardiff today against 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 group 'Disabled People Against Cuts' will stage a protest at the Aneurin Bevan statue in Cardiff's Queen Street as part of a UK-wide protest against the company, which is also a sponsor of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Former serviceman Jonathan Williams from Pontypool will be amongst the protesters in Cardiff tomorrow.

Describing himself as "40 per cent disabled", Mr Williams fears he will lose his disability allowance because of the tests performed by Atos on behalf of the DWP.

Campaigners for disability rights protested outside the Atos assessment centre in Swansea yesterday for the same cause.

However, Atos Healthcare maintain that the company does not make decisions on an individual's entitlement to a benefit, with this responsibility being held by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Atos said the Work Capability Assessments it carried out were 'in line with the policy and guidelines laid down by the UK Government.'

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.

Addressing this week's protests in Wales, an Atos spokesperson said:

Members of the British Medical Association voiced their concerns over Atos' status as the DWP's assessor earlier this year.

At its annual representative meeting this year, BMA members called for the end of Work Capability Assessment as they are currently performed by Atos.

At the meeting, the BMA resolution demanded:

In response to this week's protests, a Government spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said:

Atos Healthcare is a subsidiary of Atos Origin, which is a worldwide organisation.