Category Archives: ATOS

Riots or protests?

So the rioters have been going through the courts at a breakneck pace, and they’re being threatened with having their benefits taken away. I’m sure that will really worry the millionaire’s daughter, the primary school worker and the budding musician. Well, maybe the musician… It seems that the riots were truly classless, with many tearing up the town regardless of social background. Apparently these people were ‘protesting’ against the government and all its various stupid ideas since the coalition took power, and some people are arguing online that these protesters should be treated as wannabe freedom fighters rather than criminal idiots.

Here’s my view:

If they were protesting against government reforms and all the misery that the government has caused the little people since it took over, if they were protesting the rich tax-dodgers, the bank bonuses, the benefit reforms that have led to untold stress, the fact that it now appears that the police really did shoot an innocent man dead – again! – and the insane cuts to various vital services etc etc etc then…

Why didn’t we see ATOS centres and JobCentres in flames? Why weren’t the crowds marching on parliament demanding equality for all? Why didn’t we see people trying to do to Canary Wharf what the Daleks couldn’t? Why wasn’t every single RBS branch looted and decorated with symbolic effigies of Fred Goodwin? Why wasn’t the House of Commons pelted with paint and stones? Believe me, if the ATOS centres or JobCentres had gone up in smoke, some people would have happily toasted marshmallows in the ashes. (For the record, these are rhetorical questions not suggestions, so if the local ATOS centre gets torched, I had nothing to do with it. Honest.)

Instead, what did these protesters do? Indiscriminately attacked buses, police cars and firefighters. Burned shops and homes to the ground. Whatever didn’t burn, got looted. Homes burgled, passersby beaten up and mugged. Three men mown down. Petrol bombs hurled at police. Reporters hospitalised. In general, forgive me if I’m wrong, but they seemed to be picking the easy targets and hitting them up, much like this government has been doing.

Take for example that they have just admitted that their disability benefit reforms have been based on iffy figures, figures that have been clearly been, at best, not looked at properly, giving an unfair impression of the ‘rise’ in DLA caseloads: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/08/dwp-admits-disability-reform-based-on-dodgy-figures-as-reported-by-left-foot-forward/

Or the smearing of disability benefit claimants as ‘scroungers’: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/charities-angry-over-ministers-crackdown-on-disability-benefits-2326481.html

Or letting huge corporations avoid amazing amounts of tax while reducing the police, the fire service and the army.

And now, what have the protesters / rioters really achieved? A hell of a lot of mess, nervous tension, and ‘Call me Dave’ has given the police powers to disrupt social networks. Hoodies probably banned (I like hoodies, dammit), increased legal powers to deal with those who upset the state – for whatever reason. I bet ID cards are back on the agenda within a few months. The Daily Mail must be loving this. Now they’ve got an excuse to curtail more freedoms and for what? A free TV and some Basmati rice? I hope it was worth it.

On the upside though, it has been heartening to see communities pulling together, helping each other out and uniting in the face of the worst riots we’ve had since, well, the last Tory government. Community clean-ups, wombles, facebook support groups for the police / emergency services and fundraising for those who lost their homes in the riots make me feel like there’s some hope for us yet.

If only we could all get along like this without having to have a riot first.

Yes indeedy

The medical was indeed cancelled. An attentive reader has noticed what ATOS didn’t – that the medical was pointless, timewasting and unnecessary. The DWP certainly thought so, and said they were going to send a note to ATOS to that effect. Me being the paranoid soul that I am, or rather the cynical personality that I have had to adopt in the face of years of bureaucratic wrangling – I once had an argument with the DWP that lasted for a year, going through several appeals, before ending up at tribunal. I won. But I digress.

Being the paranoid / cynical / jaded / battle-scarred soul that I am, I rang the ATOS assessment centre in the morning on wednesday just to make sure we were all on the same page.

We weren’t.

They said the medical was still going ahead. I asked if they’d received anything from the DWP. They said no. I said the DWP had said it was cancelled. They said that if I couldn’t attend, then I would have to fill out an ‘unable to attend’ form and cite the DWP. I got a little bit upset, said that it wasn’t a matter of me being unable to attend, it was the DWP telling me one thing, and why should I fill out a form making it sound like it’s my fault I can’t come and if the DWP deny everything, where would that leave me? It was an outburst that was a long time in coming in dealing ATOS.

They said they didn’t know, they were alone in the office, and they didn’t have the time to explain it to me via text relay, and hung up.

Leaving me stewing and with little option but to go to the medical, if only to cover my back. Luckily though, when I got there, the interpreter turned out to fully qualified, from an agency that I knew of, knew several people that I know, and produced their accreditation without a word of protest. They were if anything, sympathetic.

At the end of it, I picked up a comments / feedback / complaints form. I said that my complaint was going to go for several pages (using this blog as an aid to memory) and asked if they had any more. The woman on reception looked slightly uncertain, but helpfully provided me with a freepost envelope so that I could write as many pages as I like and send them, along with thr form to ATOS. Heaven forbid that it should get ‘lost in the post’ so I’ll be sending it by recorded delivery.

And the final kicker of the day was… The interpreter feedback form. The interpreter started to give it to me, as it had a section clearly marked “to be completed by service user” but the reception woman stopped them, saying they (ATOS) were going to fill it out. The interpreter – quite rightly – pointed out that they, ATOS, the reception woman, the assessor, don’t understand sign language. The woman chuckled, as if it was somehow amusing, but didn’t really have a reply.

Get that. The interpreter has a feedback form, and who’s going to fill it out? ATOS.

So that is how I came to be at a medical that I was told was cancelled. No doubt I’ll get the cancellation letter sometime next week, and the ‘medical’ decision the week after that.