A week of protests against benefit cuts kicked off today with disability activists holding a party and picnic outside the HQ of a private company employed to carry out dubious "fit for work" tests.
Around 50 demonstrators gathered in front of Atos Origin's head office in Euston, London, to shine a spotlight on the firm responsible for removing essential benefits from thousands of people - in some cases with serious health conditions.
People with conditions as serious as cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV and mental health problems have all been told they will no longer receive payments.
The disabled campaigners, who displayed a banner stating "Atos Kill," are angry that the opinions of GPs and medical consultants are being ignored when a claimant's ability to work is assessed.
Decisions are based on a quick tick-the-box exercise carried out by Atos that asks nit-picking questions such as "Can you put your hand in your top pocket?"
A large percentage of appeals against Atos Origin's decisions have resulted in benefits being restored.
And activists say that the entire process is demeaning, stressful and has already contributed to suicides.
The protest was part of three days of action taking place this week across England against disability benefit cuts, including a mass lobby of Parliament on Wednesday.
More than 50 organisations working with claimants or opposed to government cuts have signed up to support their campaign.
Claimants have also vowed to picket medical job fairs whenever Atos Origin is hiring medical staff, including the British Medical Journal's annual recruitment event in September.
Disabled People Against Cuts spokeswoman Linda Burnip said: "We're delighted to have so much growing support for our campaign from groups and networks from as far afield as Glasgow, Truro and Northern Ireland.
"This shows how strongly disabled people feel about these unfair and degrading assessments and how angry they are that these assessments are being forced on them by the coalition government."
She asked why, if there is money for the banks, money paid to the government in taxes is not made available to help taxpayers when they need it.
But a DWP spokesman said: "The system we have at the moment is not fit for purpose and is failing disabled people."
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