DWP contractor Atos Healthcare has pressured webhosting companies into removing sites critical of its assessments, but some blogs remain as the backlash gathers momentum.
After being cut off by its hosting service provider on Sunday 21 August, the CarerWatch Discussion Forum went back online at Black Triangle http://carerwatch.blacktrianglecampaign.org/. The After Atos site and Atos Register of Shame are still offline (update: it's back now back online), although its blog is available.
In their reply to Atos' Legal Department, CarerWatch point out that distress caused to members who have lost their vital support and discussion forum could have been avoided had Atos contacted them before threatening to sue for libel. Some members have rung up in tears while others cannot be contacted.
Disability campaigning group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have been targeting Atos Healthcare, part of international IT company Atos Origin with annual revenues of €8.7bn, for protests against unfair and discriminatory assessments which have resulted in record numbers of rejected claims for Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
DPAC founder Linda Burnip said: “I know hundreds of people who have lost everything. If you lose Incapacity Benefit, you lose Disability Living Allowance (DLA). If you lose DLA you lose all the other benefits you are entitled to. It is a massive knock-on effect.”
Disability activist and DPAC member, Adam Lotun lost his DLA based on the assumption that he was “high-functioning”. As a result he lost all his other benefits, his car, and his job. He said: “Everything at home is the same height as my wheelchair so I use my stick at home. The assessor assumed I had lied about my wheelchair and took everything away from me. Because they took my car away too, I couldn’t get to work and lost my job. I’m still waiting for a stairlift and a downstairs toilet. I’ve got eight-week-old twins and I can barely carry them.”
Despite legal threats the slogan "Atos Kills" continues to be used by campaigners following an increase in suicide rates among disabled people,
Atos has a £300m contract to reassess ESA claimants until 2015.
Update 12 September 2011: Read the open letter response to Atos Healthcare: