Posts Tagged ‘OH Assist’

‘Gaslighting’ and Private Eye on February 2013 on Further Restrictions to Disabled Claimants by Atos

March 4, 2014

Yesterday I reblogged one of Mike’s articles from Vox Political, reporting that Atos/ OH Assist was trying to bully blogs criticising them into taking down their posts. Atos/OH Assist was demanding that they do so as these articles encouraged hate towards their members and staff, some of whom have received death threats. This looks to me like another example of a rich and corrupt corporation trying to silence its critics through legal action, regardless of whether the criticisms levelled at the company are true or not. Mike’s article has extensively rebutted these claims, to which I’ve added the classic Private Eye response to bullying, unfounded threats of legal action ‘Arkell vs. Pressdram’.

Atos/ OH Assist is hated, because its administration of the Work Capability Assessment for the DWP has resulted in thousands of the poor and desperate being thrown off benefit, to die in poverty and starvation. Some have taken their own life. The actual numbers, who may have died after being assessed by Atos and then had their benefits stopped by the DWP may be as high as 38,000. Commenters on Mike’s blog have suggested that it is no accident that Atos/OH Assist have made these accusations of threats and intimidation now, just when they are trying to get out of the government contract.

One of Mike’s commenters, Kittysjones, has identified Atos/OH Assist’s tactics as ‘gaslighting’. She says

Gas-lighting on a political level is a manipulative strategy used to prevent us forming a secure picture of reality. In its most basic form, gaslighting involves modifying evidence and falsifying information for the purpose of making the intended victim question his or her recollection, memory, analysis, and perception of events or behaviours. Gaslighting is commonly used by the military and other high-level organizations for socio-political operations. It is sometimes used by the mental health profession as a concept to describe a particular form of psychological manipulation in inter-personal relationships. A common form of gaslighting is victim-blame , where the perpetrator attempts to convince others that the targeted victim is the aggressor,and the perpetrator is the victim. These tactics are commonly used by psychopaths to control and manipulate others

The language manipulations and redefinitions of this govt are attempts to distort and control your view of reality. As are the denials of the terrible impact of their policies

Sometimes, gaslighting can be as simple as knowingly denying something took place. This is a common behaviour exhibited by perpetrators of child abuse, who will sometimes deny completely that abuse happened, intending to make the victim doubt his or her own recollection.

Other times, gaslighting can involve the creation of elaborate schemes, experiences, and situations that cause a person to question their own judgment and recollection. There are a good number of con games based upon the concept of gaslighting, almost all of which are designed to steal money from the victim.

A brilliant example of gaslighting is the Michael Douglas movie The Game. It is one great series of gaslighting from beginning to end

So basically, Atos here are blaming their victims in order to divert attention from their own heinous persecution of society’s most vulnerable.

It is interesting after hearing these accusations by Atos/OH Assist, to read an article from February last year in Private Eye, that reported that the company was making the tests for disability benefit even more stringent in order to have more claimants declared ‘fit for work’. The article is as follows:

Fitness to Work
Ill Thought Out

Despite cross-party condemnation last week over the way thousands of sick and disabled people have had their benefits axed after the private company Atos wrongly found them fit to work, the government is trying to sneak in new measures which will make the problem worse.

It has tabled amendments to employment and support allowance legislation which, academics and campaigners say, will lead to even greater suffering by the genuinely ill.

Plans include withdrawing benefit if an assessor decides that a claimant’s ability to work would be improved by aids, such as guide dogs, walking sticks or prosthetic limbs – whether or not the claimant has access to them or can use them. Atos assessors already have the power to carry out an “imaginary wheelchair test” when they decide that a person could work if they used a wheelchair – even if they do not have one.

Under the changes people will also lose benefit if an assessor decides that adjustments could be made for them in the workplace – whether or not those changes have been made. The amendments also include plans to consider physical and mental health problems separately, instead of looking at the combined effects of mental and physical health on a person’s ability to work. As is common knowledge, some disease impact on both mental and physical health, and treatments for one can severely impact the other.

The changes, due to take effect at the end of the month after no public debate, have been condemned in a briefing by Ekklesia, which says they fly in the face of “coalition claims to be protecting and supporting sick and disabled people in a climate of austerity, cutbacks and hardship”.

MP Tom Greatrex, a critic of Atos, said: ‘The fact that people can be assessed as fit for work on the basis of an imaginary guide dog, without taking an account of the availability of guide dogs and the time taken to train both dogs and users, highlights just how far the DWP seem to be prepared to go to find people fit for work without the support they need to make work a reality.”

Last week the Commons heard of may cases where patients had died, or committed suicide, after being assessed as fit for work following “a demeaning process that was making sick people sicker”. Under coalition proposals there will be many more such cases.

(Private Eye, 25th January 7th February 2013, p. 20.)

It looks like after the DWP made the conditions for passing the Work Capability Assessment even more severe and restrictive, Atos/OH Assist found themselves even more unpopular than they were already. They are thus trying to salvage some kind of positive image from the public by trying to get out of their contract. The accusations and claims of death threats by their staff are merely attempts to deflect the blame for a cruel, callous and punitive system intent of throwing as many of the disabled off benefit as possible. Not only does Atos need to go, but the whole DWP also needs to be comprehensively reviewed and overhauled.

Gilbert and Sullivan on Corporate Changes of Identity

February 25, 2014

Out with the old...: You can rest assured that the only change at Atos has been the company brand name.

Mike over at Vox Political has posted up a piece on Atos’ rebranding itself OH Assist. While Atos certainly are not bankrupt by any means, it does remind me of the way the managers of failing companies have tried to escape their creditors by going into liquidation, and then starting another company. Every so often, one of these companies, sometimes using a name little different from their predecessors, turns up on Watchdog or one of the other consumer interest programmes. This is, of course, perfectly legal, and so old that it was satirised by Gilbert and Sullivan in the libretto of a Company Promoter, written in 1893:

If you come to grief, and creditors are craving …
Do you suppose that signifies perdition?
If so you’re but a monetary dunce –
You merely file a Winding-Up Petition,
And start another company at once!
… the Liquidators say,
Never mind – you needn’t pay’,
So you start another company tomorrow.

Unfortunately, Atos certainly are still solvent, but the name change strikes me as tacit admission that they are well overdrawn at the moral bank. A number of other corporate giants have rebranded themselves after developing a bad reputation through their involvement in government policies. Anderson Consulting, the accountancy firm that was involved with successive governments’ reforms of the civil service from Major onwards, have changed their name. Atos’ relaunch seems to me a similar attempt to try to win back some corporate goodwill from the public, disguising the company’s nasty history and work behind the name change.

Just like a bankrupt businessman trying to stay one step ahead of their creditors, by using the commercial law to claim a different identity.