Dear ATOS, my 3 year old can push a button, should I be sending him to work?

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Dear Atos Healthcare,

I’m writing to you with a concern about a person known to me who is not in work.

I am a journalist for a local newspaper, and on doing some research for an article yesterday, came across a very long list of questions that are asked at Atos ‘Work Capability Assessment’ interviews up and down Britain.

Questions such as:

Can you spell the word ‘world?’

What is 97 minus six?

Can you show me your left hand?

Can you show me your right hand?

Can you touch your nose with your left hand?

Can you touch your nose with your right hand?

Do you live with people or on your own?

Can you wash yourself?

Can you dress yourself?

Can you feed yourself unaided?

As I started to read the questions, a growing sense of doom began to build as I realised that I might know someone who is committing Benefit Fraud.

You see, my son, frequently referred to throughout my blog as Small Boy, can spell the word ‘world’. I don’t want to seem like one of those show- off mothers, but he can also touch his nose with his right and left hand when asked, he can wash his face, he dresses himself in the morning, and he doesn’t live by himself.

My son is three years old, and from my understanding based on my own research, he would pass an Atos Work Capabilty Assessment with flying colours.

So I have a concern.

I currently claim £20.30 a week in Child Benefit for this small being that is, by your own definitions, more than capable of taking a full time job. I’m worried, Atos, because as the genuinely sick are denied benefits because your own assessors cannot use common sense and judgement to decide whether they are actually fit to work, not whether they can spell single syllable words and dress themselves unaided, how long is it before you come for the children?

I mean, if you assess people based on their ability to push a single button, well, he’s been able to do that for quite some time.

In short – my toddler could pass an Atos test- IT DOESN’T MEAN HE CAN GO TO WORK.

As your chief exec issues half arsed pithy apologies ‘if they have done anything wrong’ on Radio 4 last month, I ask her, with the blood of Linda Wootton on her hands, who died NINE DAYS after her benefits were stopped by your unfeeling omnipotent test of nothingness, how do you sleep at night?

With reports of just one weeks training, with terminally ill people being asked to prove they are genuinely ill, how do you sleep at night?

Aneurin Bevan, the Labour MP and founder of the NHS, once said:

“Not even the apparently enlightened principle of the greatest good for the greatest number can excuse indifference to individual suffering. There is no test for progress other than its impact on the individual.”

But that NHS is being dismantled too. In fact everything that is genuinely useful and necessary to us ‘ordinary folk’ is being ripped out from the hearts of our society by the Thatcher-inspired self-appointed elite. There are many of us that can’t AFFORD private health care, dental plans, fancy insurance policies. We depend on the things that are available for everybody.

Iain Duncan Smith said when he launched his ‘tough’ welfare reforms, that “a life on benefits is no longer an option”. But surely LIFE itself is an option?

When did the decision to live or die, depend on your birthright, your inheritance, a family business passed down or a postcode lottery? When did the right to live become a desperate wish not to die?

When the Government decided to chop up the National Health Service, while giving tax cuts to their millionaire friends.

When you took a 5 year, £400million contract to bully dying people into court and tribunals.

I may be mistaken, but I thought I happily paid my taxes so that people like Linda Wootton, who did not ask for the hand she was dealt, who returned to work after a double transplant, who spent her last few months in misery, scared that people thought she was a scrounger – I thought my taxes contributed to a SOCIETY, but no society I can think of, would treat its members this way.

So first you came for the disabled, and they spoke out, they protested, but nothing changes.

Then you came for the terminally ill, the cancer sufferers, and they spoke out, they protested, but nothing changes.

Then you came for the sick, the elderly, the wounded, the injured, the dying.

Who is left? Who is next? As you ship people from the Work Capability Assessments to the dole queue knowing full well that there aren’t enough jobs out there for the unemployed let alone add to their number, I ask you – what is your plan? When your five years are up, where will you go? How many people will have died at the hands of untrained ‘health’ ‘care’ ‘professionals’ before you accept the blood on your hands?

But I have a son. He is three years old. He could pass your Work Capability Assessment, and THAT SAYS IT ALL.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Dear ATOS, my 3 year old can push a button, should I be sending him to work?

20130528-220138.jpg

Dear Atos Healthcare,

I’m writing to you with a concern about a person known to me who is not in work.

I am a journalist for a local newspaper, and on doing some research for an article yesterday, came across a very long list of questions that are asked at Atos ‘Work Capability Assessment’ interviews up and down Britain.

Questions such as:

Can you spell the word ‘world?’

What is 97 minus six?

Can you show me your left hand?

Can you show me your right hand?

Can you touch your nose with your left hand?

Can you touch your nose with your right hand?

Do you live with people or on your own?

Can you wash yourself?

Can you dress yourself?

Can you feed yourself unaided?

As I started to read the questions, a growing sense of doom began to build as I realised that I might know someone who is committing Benefit Fraud.

You see, my son, frequently referred to throughout my blog as Small Boy, can spell the word ‘world’. I don’t want to seem like one of those show- off mothers, but he can also touch his nose with his right and left hand when asked, he can wash his face, he dresses himself in the morning, and he doesn’t live by himself.

My son is three years old, and from my understanding based on my own research, he would pass an Atos Work Capabilty Assessment with flying colours.

So I have a concern.

I currently claim £20.30 a week in Child Benefit for this small being that is, by your own definitions, more than capable of taking a full time job. I’m worried, Atos, because as the genuinely sick are denied benefits because your own assessors cannot use common sense and judgement to decide whether they are actually fit to work, not whether they can spell single syllable words and dress themselves unaided, how long is it before you come for the children?

I mean, if you assess people based on their ability to push a single button, well, he’s been able to do that for quite some time.

In short – my toddler could pass an Atos test- IT DOESN’T MEAN HE CAN GO TO WORK.

As your chief exec issues half arsed pithy apologies ‘if they have done anything wrong’ on Radio 4 last month, I ask her, with the blood of Linda Wootton on her hands, who died NINE DAYS after her benefits were stopped by your unfeeling omnipotent test of nothingness, how do you sleep at night?

With reports of just one weeks training, with terminally ill people being asked to prove they are genuinely ill, how do you sleep at night?

Aneurin Bevan, the Labour MP and founder of the NHS, once said:

“Not even the apparently enlightened principle of the greatest good for the greatest number can excuse indifference to individual suffering. There is no test for progress other than its impact on the individual.”

But that NHS is being dismantled too. In fact everything that is genuinely useful and necessary to us ‘ordinary folk’ is being ripped out from the hearts of our society by the Thatcher-inspired self-appointed elite. There are many of us that can’t AFFORD private health care, dental plans, fancy insurance policies. We depend on the things that are available for everybody.

Iain Duncan Smith said when he launched his ‘tough’ welfare reforms, that “a life on benefits is no longer an option”. But surely LIFE itself is an option?

When did the decision to live or die, depend on your birthright, your inheritance, a family business passed down or a postcode lottery? When did the right to live become a desperate wish not to die?

When the Government decided to chop up the National Health Service, while giving tax cuts to their millionaire friends.

When you took a 5 year, £400million contract to bully dying people into court and tribunals.

I may be mistaken, but I thought I happily paid my taxes so that people like Linda Wootton, who did not ask for the hand she was dealt, who returned to work after a double transplant, who spent her last few months in misery, scared that people thought she was a scrounger – I thought my taxes contributed to a SOCIETY, but no society I can think of, would treat its members this way.

So first you came for the disabled, and they spoke out, they protested, but nothing changes.

Then you came for the terminally ill, the cancer sufferers, and they spoke out, they protested, but nothing changes.

Then you came for the sick, the elderly, the wounded, the injured, the dying.

Who is left? Who is next? As you ship people from the Work Capability Assessments to the dole queue knowing full well that there aren’t enough jobs out there for the unemployed let alone add to their number, I ask you – what is your plan? When your five years are up, where will you go? How many people will have died at the hands of untrained ‘health’ ‘care’ ‘professionals’ before you accept the blood on your hands?

But I have a son. He is three years old. He could pass your Work Capability Assessment, and THAT SAYS IT ALL.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

“I Do Not Intend To Die, Washing A Teacup”. Margaret Thatcher, 1925 – 2013.

MARGARET Thatcher has passed away today, aged 87, following a stroke.

She entered the Houses of Parliament with drive, with ambition, and with a vision that she truly believed would change this country for the better. The daughter of a grocer, and a woman, she is often described as ‘shattering the glass ceiling’ for women in politics. She was the first, and only, female Prime Minister of this country.

Many on the Left joked about having “the champagne on ice” for her passing. Although I despise her politics, I am writing this with a heavy heart. I will not be hypocritical enough to write a gushing tribute, as I disagree profoundly with a lot of what she did. I know enough of my history to know that she was a truly divisive figure, and that many suffered under her leadership. I do not dispute that, nor dismiss it. It is both history, and a legacy, an undercurrent into our current Conservative Party politicians mindset and policies.

Yet Margaret’s death does not change anything.

It does not turn the clock back to May 1979.

It does not undo what has been done.

In this, I am saddened by todays events – not the death of the first female Prime Minister of this country, although this will be in itself a historically significant day – but at the jubilation and exultation displayed by people vulgar enough to celebrate the death of another human being.

A frail, 87 year old woman suffering a stroke, and dying in pain, is not something to rejoice in. She leaves behind her daughter Carole and son Mark, and I hope both have the sense to avoid their Twitter feeds for a week or so to let the trolls crawl back under their bridges.

As one of my friends pointed out as they ‘pulled rank’ on me earlier, I did not live through the Thatcher years. I did not live through the high levels of unemployment, strikes, riots, and social unrest that ensued.

However, now in 2013, the years that I undisputedly am living through, I look around me at high levels of unemployment, strikes, riots, and social unrest.

For those embittered at what they call ‘The Thatcher Legacy’ – ask yourselves, what do you want to see happen in our Great Britain today? The same again? What would you change? What would you do?

As Sure Start childrens centres are closing, as Disability Living Allowance is being replaced by Personal Independence Payments, as the Bedroom Tax uproots people from their homes – what would you change? What would you do? If you hate the contents of the history book so much, why not change it so it doesn’t repeat itself? Or do you intend to die, washing up a tea cup?

To those exultant, even fleetingly, about the death of a frail old woman, I leave you with these words, from the 2011 film ‘The Iron Lady’:

“Watch your thoughts, for they will become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they’ll become habits.
Watch your habits for they will forge your character.
Watch your character, for it will make your destiny.
What we think, we become.”

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Don’t Blame Single Mums For High Streets Problems

Letter in the Echo newspaper, Thursday 1st March. In response to the following article: ‘Anna Waite: Druggies, Drunks and Single Mums Driving Upmarket Shops Out Of Southend.’ http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/9557798.Druggies__drunks_and_single_mums____driving_upmarket_shops_out_of_Southend___/

“Anna Waite thinks druggies and single mothers are killing trade in Southend High Street.
It would be great to be married with two incomes and a nice family business, but I’m not. Instead I gave up my well-paid job in order to be a better parent to my child. I’m not in the best financial state, but my pennies go back into the town centre, because it’s where I live!
Generalisations like Ms Waites show that we are all tarred with an ugly brush by silver-spooners who have no idea what it is like to live a day in my shoes. New lighting, pavements and bins will not bring people to the town centre.
Might I suggest free parking on weekends like the larger shopping centres do? More shoppers equals more shops, as the old business rule of supply and demand goes.
When General Haig’s incompetence and Neville Chamberlain’s dithering appeasement created two whole generations of single mothers, I don’t recall seeing in my history books any signs in shop windows saying that single mothers weren’t welcome.”

Ms Jack Monroe, Southend on Sea.