Durham and Sunderland Unite Community branch members joined together today to support DPAC’s day of action against Maximus- the new Work Capability assessors. Maximus is an American company so yet again, British taxpayers’ money will be winging its way abroad to boost a foreign economy, to the detriment of our own.
So far, almost 4.8 million (yes, you read it correctly) WCA’s have been carried out, with many disabled people forced on to schemes like the Work Programme, where only 26 000 have found any kind of paid employment. Meanwhile, support streams which actually support disabled people to find and stay in work, such as DLA (Disability Living Allowance) , Access to Work & ILF (Independent Living Fund) continue to be decimated by cuts or abolished altogether.
In Australia Maximus have been hit by a series of scandals including claimants having their benefits stopped for no reason, signatures on paperwork were faked and the most marginalised claimants were parked – meaning abandoned completely by the companies who see no profit in helping them.
The Work Capability Assessment is based on three flawed assumptions. The first is the ludicrous medical consensus which claims that work is good for you in almost any circumstances despite evidence which shows poor quality jobs can be worse for your health than unemployment. The second is that there is plenty of work to go round if people just try hard enough, yet there are only 700,000 vacancies currently available and just short of two million unemployed people desperate for a job – a figure which does not include and additional two and a half million sickness benefit claimants. And the third and perhaps most toxic is that large numbers of people on out of work sickness or disability benefits are scroungers, workshy, fraudulent or faking their health condition.
The response to our demonstration was entirely positive. The joint Unite Community/PCS Sanctions advice leaflets were incredibly popular. members of the public stopped to chat and offer their support. Make no mistake people are angry about what is happening.