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Today (19 November 2012) at 12.30pm the latest phase of a big online campaign to raise awareness about the injustices wrought by the flawed Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which is being used to block vitally needed benefits for many sick and disabled people, becomes visible.
That is the time when a large 'thunderclap' will break out across social media, notably Twitter and Facebook, reaching some 300,000 individuals and organisations. It's a co-ordinated "shout out", and you can still join in if you are reading this ahead of the deadline - by signing up on the link below. It will only take a minute or so.
Meanwhile, here is what the We Are Spartacus network of disability campaigners are saying about the background to this action:
"The UK government are testing and re-testing people who are sick and/or disabled to determine if they are eligible for support or whether they are 'fit for work'. However, the Work Capability Assessment they are using has been widely condemned as being unfair and inaccurate.
"Anticipating the publication of Professor Harrington’s third (and, for him, final) annual review of the Work Capability Assessment, the WeAreSpartacus group have published our own review, from the lived experience of the sick and disabled people going through it.
"The People's Review of the Work Capability Assessment includes the experiences of more than 70 claimants who have been wrongly assessed, humiliated, badly treated and forced to go to tribunal to secure the benefits to which they are entitled under by law.
"The review also highlights press reports of some of the claimants who have died after being found fit for work or whose suicide has been linked, at least in part, to the stress of a process which is essentially abusive, demeaning and not fit for purpose. In the final section of the review, we examine what has been said about the WCA by the Government, MP's, courts, professional bodies, medical organisations and individual medical professionals. This section includes full references, including replies to Freedom of Information requests, so readers can check the facts for themselves.
"In July of this year, investigative journalism from Panorama and Dispatches exposed the suffering experienced by claimants of Employment Support Allowance (which replaces Incapacity Benefit) going through the WCA process. The documentaries also revealed something of what goes on behind the scenes at Atos Healthcare, who undertake the assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.
"MP's have raised concerns about the experiences of their constituents; questions have been posed to Ministers; debates have been held in the Commons; the British Medical Association, medical professional bodies and charities, both large and small, have condemned the process; the National Audit Office has highlighted the waste of money from unnecessary appeals; and disabled and sick people have been working continually under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to expose the suffering and hardship they're experiencing. But still the process continues; neither the Department for Work and Pensions nor Atos Healthcare have been held to account.
"The People's Review needs to be shared far and wide; it is a comprehensive analysis not only of people's experience, but of the policies and activities behind the scenes which reveal the objective reality of an assessment process which needs a radical overhaul, for the sake of disabled and sick people - and for our country, which cannot afford to fund a broken system which costs much, much more than just money."
* Click here to support the WCA review 'thunderclap': https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/632-the-people-s-review-of-the-wca
* Thunderclap FAQ: https://www.thunderclap.it/faq
* The People's Review of the WCA: http://thndr.it/SOCLmU
* More on Spartacus: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/spartacusreport
* 'Official policy on disability work tests is to deny reality', Simon Barrow: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17378
* Follow the campaign on Twitter through the hashtag #realWCATweet