To Central London today, where Disabled People Against Cuts blocked roads outside Maximus HQ in Queen Anne’s gate and then the DWP at Caxton House and Victoria Street in protest at the Maximus contract to run the work capability assessment for disability benefits.
The turnout was good and the intention clear. Disabled people and campaigners will not stop until the Maximus contract is in tatters. Protestors managed to kick Atos out with its tail between its legs, so there is every reason to target Maximus with confidence.
Which people did today. Confidence is the word, too. The campaign against Atos was ultimately very successful, which means that people know they can do this. Doesn’t matter what sort of effort Maximus puts into the so-called “Customer Experience” that sick and disabled people who must go through the work capability assessment have when they apply for Employment and Support Allowance. Everyone knows the real point of the government’s WCA exercise is to throw people off disability benefits – and very likely to eliminate disability benefits altogether. People in real need died after Atos found them fit for work and their benefits were stopped. It’s very hard to imagine that’ll change simply because Maximus has decided that it’ll be pleasant to people as it recommends that their meagre benefits are cut.
These protests are significant for everyone. When Atos was running this shambles, DPAC and campaigners proved that it was possible to end a corporate contract by destroying a corporate reputation. That was a very useful result in an era where so many vital public services and functions are outsourced to companies like Maximus. You could argue that the New Era campaigners got a similar result. Removing a major corporate from the picture is something that people can do. And want to do, by the looks of it.
Disabled campaigners block Victoria Street:
Blocking Victoria Street and reading captions written by campaigners: