The company Atos, will not be a familiar household name with the great unwashed or indeed the enlightened amongst us, but anyone who has had to apply for sickness benefits may have had the unfortunate experience of coming in to contact with the Paris-based IT company, currently and abhorrently, being paid a staggering £100 million a year to carry out work capability assessments (WCAs), in other words try to throw, befuddle and bedevil the sick, the disabled and genuinely poorly souls in our assemblage. In other words a brief to get as many off sickness benefits and returned to the labour pool of the local dole office, thereafter being made to jump through hoops until they take up low paid employment. The ultimate goal, allowing the government to phase out incapacity benefit and replace it with the new named employment and support allowance (ESA).
The government has already started to reassess the circumstances of 1.5 million on long-term incapacity benefits to see if they are fit enough to return to the labour market. But it also wants to reduce the flow of new claimants, Cameron has said in the past:
" Half the people who end up on employment and and support allowance each year start by being signed off sick from work." The review of sickness absence will recommend what can be done "to end the sick-note culture and improve health and wellbeing at work."
On Tuesday, which is today, the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee will publish would you believe, its sixth report of the school term. The role of incapacity benefits reassessment in helping claimants into employment. The report is expected to be critical of the way in which the Department for Work and Pensions has implemented changes, and in particular focusing on the role of Atos and the way it has carried out its contract to assess claimants.
Thus far, more than 400,000 have lodged appeals against decisions not to grant the benefit since it was launched by New Labour in October 2008, and 39% have met with success. The tribunals have been forced to double the number of staff accommodating the flood of appeals, there really has been a huge volume of complaints and the cost has been in excess of well over £30 million a year.
Moving sick, disabled and unemployed people (through unfair reassessments) is not the same as 'helping' them into employment. This government of millionaires and friends of millionaires only want to increase the competition in the labour market to make and force down wages and working conditions - for their own economic interests, that of the god profit.
Under modern capitalism if you don't have a penny in your pocket the chances are you are either royalty, super-rich, or what they call in America a bum - or are you?"
In a truly socialist society, people would not be put through the wringer and the mangle, passing them between two heavy heated rollers as this government is hell-bent on and doing. In a socialist society money will be non-existent. For money is a means of exchange, but within a worldwide community in which goods and services will be produced and distributed solely for use there would be no buying or selling, barter or exchange. Money would have no function to perform - except perhaps to serve as historic exhibits in the museums. Common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by and in the interests of the whole of society would convey to all human beings the automatic right of free access to all that is needed to satisfy material requirements. Money, coupons, vouchers and similar restrictive economic tokens would not be requisites needed to gain access to the necessities and amenities of life.