Atos Minister Hoban forced to rethink by vigorous systematic critique from Spartacus

Yesterday’s meeting with Mark Hoban, the WCA Minister, presented him with a systematic catalogue of all the main weaknesses, faults and failures of the whole WCA process.   He was told in no uncertain terms that under the Evidence-Based Review new descriptors are needed now since not one single more person should have to go through a test with descriptors biased against them.   He was told he must ensure that GPs can provide evidence and are not allowed to refuse, and that this evidence must be taken fully into account before considering a WCA.   He was told that there must be mental health champions in every centre (not less than half as at present), that every assessment should be recorded, that assessment phase payments must continue throughout mandatory reconsideration, and that new centres must replace the 29 centres still inaccessible.   He was also told that 3-9 month reassessment periods were frankly absurd.   And he was told that a person undergoing a WCA must be able to score under both physical and cognitive descriptors again since separating them was clearly unworkable.

Hoban listened attentively, though his replies to some of these points seemed rather unconvincing, which on several occasions he was not allowed to get away with by Sue Marsh, who led for Spartacus and argued the case passionately.   It was also put to him that many of the disability groups wanted outright abolition of the WCA, though he waived that aside.  Nevertheless it was made clear to him that the current WCA format was universally regarded as fundamentally at fault, and he did let slip in an unintended aside that the government’s ‘current relationship with Atos was not very good’, by which of course he meant there was a thundering great row going on behind the scenes.   At the end of the 45 minute meeting Hoban was asked to agree to another early meeting if the disability community could come together to produce an alternative to the WCA.   He responded by arguing that it would have to be very robust and meet a high bar in terms of performance, but he certainly didn’t reject the idea out of hand.

Significantly, today MPs were invited to undergo a mock WCA themselves at the House of Commons where they were put through the type of questioning and demands for evidence used in WCAs in order to determine whether they scored enough to be fit to be an MP.   Quite a number of MPs attended, but the great majority (including me) failed miserably to get anywhere near scoring the number of points necessary.   It did make MPs, and certainly me, a lot more aware of what it is like to be subject to this kind of ordeal which, not to put too fina point on it, is set up to make you fail.

26 thoughts on “Atos Minister Hoban forced to rethink by vigorous systematic critique from Spartacus

  1. A mock WCA for MPs? Wow, how come this wasn’t publicised? This is the first I heard of it. It’s a good thing, I feel… now if we could only have a mock health insurance payout eligibility assessment by Unum for MPs too… oh wait, that’s the same thing, isn’t it? 🙂

  2. Your life depends on this bias ESA ……one thing to any MP the people are sick, disabled, ill, have a long term condition, have a progressive condition and some are terminal.
    Pause for thought.

  3. Ok have a go at the Tories but of course it’s all MPs from all parties Blair mark two otherwise known as Miliband has attacked people on welfare only a few weeks ago saying he would cap any benefits rises if he got into power, poor thing he’s looking and sounding more like Blair daily when it comes to the big things like welfare sick disability his whole dam speech not long ago was on attacking well he did not call us scroungers but he may as well have done.

    Labour brought in the welfare reforms and these same people who are attacking the Tories now attacked Blair and brown and Miliband, they are now attacking the Tories.

    I went through my WCA last year the ATOS doctor wrote this patient is unable to work in the short term or long term due to his obvious serious disability, ATOS saw fit to over rule this and place me into the WRAG, but before I could get going the DWP had over turned this, I had 45 points and the ATOS doctor agreed I was to disabled with paraplegia to work, yet why did they say nope he can work, nothing to do with ATOS being able to fail me and then get paid to put me through the appeal.

    And god help us when PIP’s comes in.

  4. The meeting was a sham. There is no unity in the online campaigning groups and I want to know how the hell the Spartacus group got the privileged treatment over other more ‘in touch’ campaigners.

    Yet another example of Labour ignoring what the majority view is.

    Well done for alienating disabled people and carers

  5. I presume you failed your mock WCA for fitness to be an MP (Most people do). You now have to apply for JSA in order to receive any payment. To qualify for JSA you have to sign a clause to say ‘you are unfit to be an MP’. If you decline to sign this clause, you will be entitled to NO money at all for an indefinite period. If you decide to lie and sign, then this of course will be taken into account in your ‘reconsideration’ and subsequent appeal for ESA (timescale unknown). If you win your appeal, you will be assessed again in 6 months time knowing that ‘they’ are earning money from your ‘fitness to be an MP’ test.

    Mr Meacher, with thanks for all your efforts. Jan 2014 will be my 5th ATOS medical. (I am and have been in the support group for the last 4 years.)

  6. “It did make MPs, and certainly me, a lot more aware of what it is like to be subject to this kind of ordeal which, not to put too fina point on it, is set up to make you fail.”

    The WCA is just the sickening travesty one would expect it to be given the dishonesty and stupidity in the immoral policy it serves. Witches are rare but the policy makers believe otherwise so witches must be found. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3jt5ibfRzw

  7. I would ask that Mr Meacher disregard any comments about disunity between different groups of disabled people, on the basis that in any society there is a variety of opinion, and very little consensus except upon things that touch on peoples basic rights, and thank him for the support he has given in helping the collective voice of disabled people become heard in government.

    In this I believe, as do many others, that all are in agreement that the WCA ignores the rights of disabled people to be treated fairly and with dignity, and dismisses genuine medical conditions as if they were not disabling.

    How the WCA is to be campaigned against is more of a personal matter of choice, and while I may not belong to one group, I am supportive of ALL efforts to bring some sanity to the recent legislation, which was presented as reform, but which treats sick and disabled people in a punitive way, often blaming them for their own condition, and reducing their means to live contrary to rights set out in the Equalities act, and other Human Rights legislation.

    If one group manages to make a dent in this legislation, or in the minds of its proponents, then they are simply the group that got the furthest and fastest. The other groups will not be far behind, and many amazing people been leading in other ways.

    There is a place for all, goodness knows we need a loud voice to get heard at all. There are many ways to get the message over, the more the better.

    Similarly, it is good to hear of the instances where our rights are defended, and our needs are represented fairly in parliament, because sometimes it is hard to hear those people too above the loaded rhetoric, and the almost constant propaganda of a media who ought not to be the mouthpieces of vested interests, but a voice for the people. Sadly the efforts of those who do stand up for us are not well-reported either.

    There are, in spite of what popular opinion would believe, a number of MP’s who have actually been critical of the changes, and supportive of not only disabled people but people who are unable to find work, and people who are hit by the spare room penalty, among other things.

  8. I’m quite surprised Michael Meacher hasn’t realised that Hoban appears to be asking disabled people to write part of his re-election (well, it would be if he and his govt had actually been elected in the first place) strategy for him

  9. Mr Meacher can you tell me is the DWP still going ahead with the appeal in the case of MM and DM V Secretary of State for Works and Pensions [2013]UKUT 0259 (AAC) for those with mental health conditions?

  10. Keep up the good work. My experience unfortunately suggests that the ‘discussions’ are just part of the game. The system is intentionally oppressive and they will talk to you to feign concern and to play for time – which is all part of the device of destroying people who are not already rich.

  11. Get back to reality please. The WCA is based on a model of disability/illness that comes from one source: the biopsychosocial model as touted by Simon Wessely and others. A new WCA needs to be based on new, evolving medical research and understanding and common sense. for example ME has been proved to have a biological cause and it is disabling. Parkinsons is a degenerative disease and it is disabling. People who are bipolar have a condition that fluctuates and is disabling. Being disabled is not being able to participate in society.

  12. I am certainly most grateful to Spartacus, DPAC, Black Triangle, The Welfare news Service, Michael Meacher and many others for the unstinting work they are putting in on behalf of so many disabled people. Without their ongoing efforts I am convinced we would have seen a far higher death toll among socially and financially disadvantaged groups since May 2010.

    Thank you all.

  13. Michael, well done to you Sue Marsh (who I know) and the others who help Sue etc Unlike the shadow cabinet who will change nothing if Labour come into power, you have done everything and more in trying to stop and change the terrible assessment process. HATOS aka ATOS are just doing the dirty work for government. Just like a bank hires debt collectors to collect on alledge debts. Its all a sham. Atos’ CEO was asked by me to provide proof that her alledged doctors were fit and qualified to assess me and others with severe terminal conditions. Not once did she provide me proof. Infact I got her into a contract and acquiescence which means she agreed through silence that they were not qualified. But the dwp did not give a damn. They have targets. I think the next step has to be commercial liens against people so they have to take responsibility. I mean dwp staff blamed Iain Duncan Smith as he is the minister. Well him and cameron and co, elizabeth and all those who have not attempted to stop the genocide act aka welfare reform are to be blamed.

    Mark Hoban is a clown. Nothing more than a puppet will do nothing. Maybe if Iain Duncan Smith agrees to a meeting, we may get somewhere. Hoban will just say that he met spartacus and use it to his advantage. I cant waot for Hoban, IDS, Cameron and co to meet their maket and burn in hell for the murders of the sick, poor, disabled and elderly.

    One last thing. Labour are just as bad. They have done nothing to change the genocide act.

  14. Thank you for trying to stand up for us. We need far more people supporting you through appeals and activism however it is only the few like yourselves who think they can change world actually do.
    Thanks again…bless you.

  15. 20 years between you talking about disability benefits according to records. You are clearly using disabled people for your own agenda Meacher. And using the most compliant group (Spartacus) you could find, one with no mandate from the majority of disabled people yet you choose to ignore this. Oh, one thing Spartacus hasn’t done that the majority of disabled people DO want done is to save DLA from being scrapped.

    You are a disgraceful opportunist politician that is no better than any Tory or Lib Dem.

  16. Clive…suggest you go through ALL the blogs on Mr Meacher’s site. before sounding off at a man who CONSTANTLY writes about the different injustices being perpetrated in Britain today by those in high places. THEN you are in a position to spout venom if you must.
    if you read the blogs properly you will see that Mr Meacher has NOT “only just”, jumped on this to further his career but has actually been doing it since the unfair, evil,nasty and vicious attacks on those in vulnerable situations began by our present government Whatever labour did in the past doesnt come anywhere near what this lot have done. they didnt cause deaths by their actions for one thing.so learn to read ,mark,learn and inwardly digest ,as my old junior school headmaster use to tell his pupils, and maybe you will give the respect this man deserves instead of your vitriolic lies.if you cant see it all i can say is i hope you are in the same position as those he seeks to help.and i bet you will shout louder than anyone about the injustice of it all.

  17. oh yes, and clive, he didnt need to stand up for those who are vulnerable before this government, this un-elected coalition, got in,because although some things were brought in before then, they were nothing like as vicious as they are now. nothing like as evil, nasty, demonising, and a lot more labels that have been bandied around, as they are now and have been for the past 3 years.and even if he HADNT written/stood up for, those people before, anyone once they realise what IS happening is entitled to change their minds.

  18. Please could anybody who has a facebook page or tweets tell your friends etc about the WoW epetition and sign.

    A real debate about the WCA this winter should reveal how remote IDS and Cameron are from the lives of ordinary people- who now face eating less and turning the heating off. The impact will be even greater when you consider people with disabilities will be without social security during a reconsideration/appeal time-frame.

    The passion with which Mr Meacher and Mr Skinner present constituents’ testimonies contrasts with the evasive woodenness of IDS etc and with the stock answers of the faceless DWP.

    I relish the Government being made to openly debate the WCA, Atos and, especially, the clanging heavy-handedness of DWP. Roll-on the Public Accounts Committee under the auspices of Margaret Hodge- I look forward to IDS trying to wriggle from under her questioning.

  19. I will be now filing a Private Commercial lien against all these Private registered ATOS, DWP, British Government, Minister for DWP it will now be in the millions also I will also file an action in Recoupment for a ‘SET OFF’ of all the money Bonds registered through the Federal Reserve make no mistake about that now I will send ATOS back to France I’m coming for all monies, stocks bonds moveables including all their computers as well they have tried to fraud the wrong person now Commercial Liens forthcoming including all the Doctors/Nurse from ATOS

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