Bed-ridden stroke victim told to use food banks after DWP admin error leaves him without benefits

‘We’re at the lowest of the low. Nobody knows where to turn’

A bed-ridden stroke victim was told to use food banks after an administrative error left him and his wife facing extreme poverty.

Alan Buchanan, 65, has been bed bound after suffering several major seizures since he had his first stroke 15 years ago, and the once successful businessman is now entirely dependent on his wife Heather and the occasional visits of carers.

The couple, from the small Scottish town of Callander, near Loch Lomond, said they now fear homelessness after their benefits were stopped because of an administrative error.

Earlier this year, Ms Buchanan said an inspector from Atos — a company contracted to provide independent assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) — arrived two hours early for an assessment with Mr Buchanan, despite her phoning and specifically telling them not to arrive before 11am.

“A lady came to the house at about nine in the morning. She said she was from Atos. I explained to her that I had asked for an appointment at 11am, because Alan’s carers are here before that,” Ms Buchanan told The Independent. 

“I did ask her if she’d like to come in, basically to show her that he was there, in his bed. She could see his wheelchair and everything else sitting about because we live in a very small flat. She said ‘no it’s alright, we’ll reschedule’. Then she went away.”

But Ms Buchanan said the inspector never called to rearrange the appointment and two weeks later, a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) arrived, cancelling Mr Buchanan’s benefits.

It said they would be getting nothing in their PIP, because they hadn’t provided “a good enough reason” for Mr Buchanan, who cannot get dressed or go to the toilet independently, “not attending” to the assessment.

Three days later, Ms Buchanan received another letter from the DWP saying her husband’s Attendance Allowance, designed to help with personal care for disabled people aged 65 or over, would also be stopping.

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More people come forward in the DWP ‘Kill Yourself’ scandal

On 28 February, The Canary reported the case of a woman who claimed an assessor working on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) asked her why she hadn’t killed herself yet.

Since we published that report, several people have approached us claiming the same thing happened to them. In this follow-up, we are publishing several of their testimonies. We have also spoken to Atos, the company which carries out assessments for the DWP. And in a separate report, we have discussed these claims with the President of the British Psychological Society, Peter Kinderman.


Several people contacted us with similar stories to Alice Kirby’s. Most have asked that we do not mention them by name. The majority of them said they feared it could affect their claims.


I was asked by a woman at the Atos PIP interview: ‘Why haven’t you killed yourself yet?’ I remember it very clearly. I left the room in tears and had my PIP cut. I was too afraid to complain in case they took all the money off me.

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Atos try to interrogate unconscious hospital patient over non-attendance at benefit assessment

This is sickening. It comes to us courtesy of our friends on the Atos Miracles Facebook page:

I have a neuromuscular disease and the medication I take means I have virtually no immune system. This photo [above] is of me lying in ICU battling life-threatening sepsis.

ATOS had the audacity to actually call the intensive care unit and demand to speak to me about why I wasn’t attending my assessment (despite the fact my mum and husband had told them I was fighting for my life).

The staff were horrified and told them how dare they ring and try and interrogate an unconscious patient.

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PIP investigation: Welfare expert says two-thirds of appeals involve lying assessors

Welfare rights experts have produced evidence that backs up the findings of a Disability News Service (DNS) investigation into the lies told by healthcare professionals in their disability benefit assessment reports.

Last week, the two-month investigation revealed how assessors working for the outsourcing companies Capita and Atos – most of them nurses – had repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations.

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Private firms pocket more than £500m from hated disability benefit assessments

Two private firms responsible for carrying out disability benefit assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have pocketed more than half a BILLION pounds of taxpayers cash, despite thousands of “inaccurate assessments” being later overturned in favour of claimants.

Data collected by The Mirror reveals Atos and Capita have made more than £500m from Personal Independence Payment assessments, since the new disability benefit was introduced to replace Disability Living Allowance in 2013.

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Private firms rake in half a BILLION pounds for cruel disability benefit assessments

Atos and Capita earn the fees assessing people for PIP despite thousands having their cases overturned on appeal

Fit-to-work firms Atos and Capita have earned more than £500m of taxpayer cash running a hated Tory scheme to assess people for disability benefits.

Analysis of Government data by the Mirror shows the two firms were paid £211m for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments in the first 11 months of 2016.

That was up from £198m in 2015, £91m in 2014 and £7m in 2013, the year PIP launched.

PIP is designed to help disabled people live independently and is replacing the old Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Yet despite the assessments’ £507m price tag, thousands of decisions based on them are being overturned on appeal.

Figures to September 2016 show 61% of 90,000 claimants who appealed against a PIP decision at a tribunal won their case.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “This adds to the suspicion that these companies are just driven by a profit motive, and the incentive is to get the assessments done, but not necessarily to get the assessments right.

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According to both ATOS and DWP a person is NOT disabled if the following apply.

This was posted on the DPAC facebook page:

According to both ATOS and DWP a person is NOT disabled if the following apply…

I) you wear clean clothes

I) you brush your hair

I) you make eye contact

I) your clothes appear to have been ironed

I) you have painted nails

I) your hair is dyed

I) you are of average build

I) you have your hair styled

I) you can open a bag

I) you have a clear complexion

I) you can talk

The list goes on. I would love to know what ATOS and DWP say a disabled person looks like as I’m sure there’s laws against such a thing. DISCRIMINATION!!!

dwp letter brush hair.jpg


The lift was broken at the disability assessment centre. Again.

This is from Michelle at Fightback, posted onto facebook.


I see Pall Mall Manchester Atos PIP centre have their lift out of order yet again, and are then allegedly penalising claimants for attempting the 7 or 8 steps into the assessment centre and so called 100 metres to the furthest room from the front door, and stating on their reports that a claimant appears to have no problems with mobility as they managed the stairs, didn’t use the lift, and walked into the building over 100 metres.

Even if someone is shaking/crying and sweating profusely from the effort of trying, as my client showed in May, they may be penalised. My client was told by staff that her claim would be sent back to DWP if she couldn’t get up the stairs, she half crawled them and they witnessed her doing so. This is against The Equality Act 2010 and should be reported as it is direct disability discrimination to hold an assessment for a disability benefit in a centre with no active disabled access.

Sadly the HCP report came this week and voila her 6 year higher rate DLA mobility and car are no more and she is cured, after 2 failing hip replacements 16 yr old ago that desperately need redoing, a partial ankle replacement and severed nerves in her foot from this, and despite being on the list for an urgent right knee replacement, not to mention her spine curvature and scoliosis which also all appear to have apparently been cured. Best of all her left leg has grown miraculously 4 inches in order to match her right, all of which were causing severe walking difficulties for her. This is on top of her serious heart condition which causes her to faint when it races and bursitis of the hip and shoulder. She is a walking miracle!

All of this was because the lift was broken, yet again at the centre, or was it?

Come on ATOS after seemingly improving your practices you are seriously deteriorating fast with these cheap tricks and ridiculous reports. 10 minute reports are also being reported in some areas, how on earth can all the claimants disabilities and needs be discussed in this time adequately?

Anyone else experiencing a sharp influx in “broken lifts” anywhere else in the UK at the moment? We are very interested to hear your stories of disabled access problems and failing equipment so we can help compile a report.

There are some excellent centres out there, one in the centre of Manchester, the purpose of this post is to try and establish if these are isolated incidents, or common practice in this centre or elsewhere. If we establish if it is the latter then we can begin gathering evidence for a more serious complaint than the few relating to this we have.

Michelle Cardno, LLB hons
Disability buddy advocate

Atos Refuses To Disclose Disability Benefit Assessment Profits

Atos has been heavily criticised after refusing to disclose its profits from carrying out benefit assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The private firm withdrew from its contract to carry out Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) assessments following concerns over accuracy and fairness.

However, Atos were still awarded a contract to carry out Personal Independence Payments (PIP) assessments.

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Half-blind UK widow commits suicide after incapacity benefit cut

A partially-blind widow, who suffered crippling back pain for over a decade, committed suicide after her incapacity benefit was cut because state assessors claimed she was fit to work.

Following a two-minute assessment, private firm Atos Healthcare concluded Jacqueline Harris was fit to work despite the fact she had trouble walking and suffered constant, excruciating back pain.Her incapacity benefit was subsequently axed by the government, which pays the firm to conduct fitness-for-work assessments.

Harris, a former nurse who had claimed incapacity benefit for a number of years, was awaiting a serious spinal operation when Atos assessed her. According to the deceased’s sister, the Atos employee asked Harris one question during the interview – whether she was capable of catching a bus.

The firm has been the focus of a firestorm of criticism in recent times, with mounting claims that vulnerable and unwell people are being wrongly proposed for work, and are forced to endure exasperating and upsetting medical interviews.

‘Atos should be shot’

Fifty-three-year-old Harris was discovered dead in her home in south Gloucestershire in November 2013, with a hand written note attached to her chest stressing she did not wish to be resuscitated. She took her own life just a few weeks before an appeal hearing had been scheduled with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Harris’ sister told the Daily Mail the family received a letter about the hearing a month after the former nurse died. “I didn’t tell them she had died and went along myself. I said to them ‘I’m disgusted’. Atos should be shot,” she said.

Speaking outside the Bristol court, where Harris’ inquest was held, Christine Norman said her sister’s decline was sparked by the DWP’s decision to replace her incapacity welfare allowance with Jobseeker’s Allowance. “It gave her no hope. She was defeated. What hope did she have?” Norman asked.

Norman added the government has since ruled Atos’ decision to declare her sister fit for work was wrong.

Throughout the inquest, the court was told Harris had suffered an array of different injuries and disabilities since the 1990s. Her trouble began with a fall during work, causing injured discs in her neck and back. She also endured chronic pain in her hands, resulting from a vicious dog bite and partial blindness following a severe bang to the head.

As her back pain worsened over time, Harris sought assistance and advice from doctors, attended pain management classes and engaged in physiotherapy.

Following the DWP’s decision that she was fit to work, Harris pleaded with the body saying she was awaiting an intensive back operation. But her poignant pleas were reportedly ignored.


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