Ever heard of Atos? You may be hearing a lot more of it soon—as its inspectors could turn up at your workplace next time you’re ill.
The government plans to attack “sicknote culture” by making its own occupational health teams available to bosses.
This is supposed to relieve GPs from “having to police the benefit system,” and save bosses £160?million a year.
The contracts haven’t been awarded yet, but Atos should be a shoe-in.
It already touts “solutions” to reduce sickness absence, and boasts of saving Royal Mail £227 million.
Atos is best known for testing whether disability benefit claimants are genuinely disabled.
Last week MPs shared stories of what this meant.Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon said her phones were “clogged with crying people”. Liverpool MP Steve Rotherham told the story of Janine.
“Her dad was thrown off sickness benefit in November after an Atos work capability assessment and was declared fit for work,” he said. “Six weeks later, on Christmas Day, Janine’s father died.”
Michael Meacher told of a young man with epilepsy. He died weeks after losing £70 a week benefits.
A month later the government rang to say that “it had made a mistake and his benefit was being restored”.
MPs also spoke of a woman with incontinence told to wear a nappy and a man with no legs who told to take an 80-mile round trip.
Atos even told a schizophrenic to retrain as a security guard and judged a cancer patient fit for work—before hearing the results of their operation.
What’s in a clause? Sometimes quite a lot—as disabled claimants will find out when they are tested for new PIP benefits.
Instead of being asked if they can do something “reliably, repeatedly, safely, and in a timely manner” claimants will now only be asked if they “can’t” do it at all.
This one change will snatch benefits from thousands.
How smart do you have to be to be a top banker?
The Observer newspaper recently ran a “portfolio challenge” to find out. It pitted real traders against finance students, and the professionals did narrowly better.
But both teams were roundly beaten by Orlando the cat, who picked stocks by throwing his favourite toy mouse at a grid.
We hope Orlando got a decent bonus.
The number of workers taking disputes to industrial tribunals dropped by a fifth last year.
Sex discrimination claims plummeted by 40 percent and equal pay disputes dropped by a quarter.
As more jobs go, there’s more pressure on workers not to make complaints. But the coalition is looking for ways to make it harder still.
Tory boasts of three ‘servants’ per MP
“Plebgate” has nothing on Tory MP Christopher Chope—who called waiters in parliament’s restaurant “servants”.
And there’s no need for arguing over video footage this time, as he said it in the middle of a House of Commons session while pleading for higher subsidies on MPs’ food.
Chope has been roundly attacked by Labour MPs and the staff’s Unite union.
But he refused to apologise for his comments.
He says he often dines in the restaurant while other MPs stay away, when the service is “fantastic” with “three servants for each person sitting down”.
Education minister Michael Gove is struggling to sell his £1.35 million home.
He has tried putting photos online to show off his opulent lifestyle.
The one of his bathroom has been taken down. But in case you were wondering, Gove has a faux marble toilet seat—and a cartoon of himself dressed as a schoolmaster berating children.
Don’t horse around with our food safety
Sorry to be a nag, but there’s more to the story of horse meat found in burgers sold by Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland than a chance for puns.
So why the long face?
Nearly a third of some burgers labelled as beef were made of something else. As well as horse, some contained pork.
And this isn’t exactly the food of the rich.
Food is tested to stop bosses adulterating it to cut costs—something that can end in a disaster for public health.
But these burgers were only picked up in Ireland, even though some were produced in Yorkshire. Horse DNA tests aren’t even carried out on meat in Britain.
The job of testing food was transferred to the Defra ministry in 2010—along with a £200 million budget cut.
We can’t help but wonder what nasties food bosses have been sneaking onto our plates.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
Mark Hoban MP: Expenses scrounger and benefits attack dog
- Hoban is heading up the attack on sickness benefits. He says it’s wrong to “demonise” Atos for kicking people off benefits
- He claimed MPs expenses towards silk cushion covers and other plush furnishings for his second home
Bosses put on the sacking hat
Department for Education bosses are trying to get rid of a quarter of staff and cut their admin budget in half.
So they decided to make a game out of it.
At a meeting in the run-up to Christmas they “did an exercise with party hats”.
Each boss present had to say what cuts they would make before they could take their hats off.
Around 1,000 jobs are to be axed.