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Monday the 2nd March 2015 saw the ‘National Day of Action Against Maximus – Same Circus, Different Clowns’ – given that there was a protest in solidarity with us in Toronto it would be fairer to call it an International Day of Action!

The day was organised by Disabled People Against Cuts, Black Triangle, Mental Health Resistance Network, #NewApproach and UK Uncut.

Events took place in Balham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Croydon, Dundee, Ealing, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hull, Huddersfield, Inverness, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Lincoln, Manchester, Norwich, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield, Stockton-On-Tees, Sunderland, Truro, Wrexham and the Maximus HQ in central London.

I attended the demonstration at the Maximus HQ at 29 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H. We were blessed with a bright sunny day which put everyone in good spirits and ready to make our voices heard. You can view a slideshow of images from the day at the foot of this page.

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has been described as ‘The Greatest Sham on Earth’ and those who are unaware of its absurdities tend to think you are exaggerating when you tell them how stupid and irrational it is. The WCA has but one intention and that is to reduce welfare spending no matter the human cost, and make no mistake, there has been a human cost. I can speak of this first hand. For one very close to me, an impending WCA, combined with a fear of Iain Duncan Smith’s many other pernicious ‘reforms’, played a part in an attempt upon their own life. This resulted in a long stay in hospital and I still see the fear in her eyes whenever a ‘brown envelope’ arrives. Medical staff treating her have told me that her actions, in response to the Coalition’s welfare cuts, are not uncommon. Has it really come to this in the United Kingdom, of all places? David Cameron recently said that ”The measure of how our society is, is how we treat its most vulnerable members”; he is right, and he has failed.

Demonstrations and bad publicity played a part in forcing ATOS to run away from the contract to carry out this hated test, Maximus willingly took up the poisoned chalice and 2nd March was the first working day of their new contract; hence why we found ourselves outside their offices. Later we took to the streets and, having occupied a roundabout, the public were given a demonstration of just how absurd the Work Capability Assessment is. It took the form of a circus with such exciting acts as hoop jumping, empty milk bottle carrying and a cardboard box lifting competition; these being references to assessment criteria used to find people ‘fit for work’. The performance ended with everyone joining in with the ‘Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group’ rendition of David Cameron Is A Wanker.

Twitter and other social media outlets were utilised by those who could not intend in person but wanted to take part. The twitter hashtag #Maximarse started trending and put Maximus into such a state of panic that they bought up many variations of the domain name to stop others from using it. Ah well, it is not as if anybody working for Maximus have anything better to do with their time, exploiting people has never been easier than under this Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition.

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All Photographs Copyright (c) 2015 Christopher John Ball

You can view images from previous DPAC disability campaigns I have attended and photographed here

Christopher John Ball is, along with Dean Sipling, co-author of the play Throwing Stones – ‘What’s in your family album?’ Order your copy today from Amazon

“Mid-life male photographer meets young, nubile female student-cum-artistic muse – so far it’s old hat. But photographer turned playwright Christopher John Ball and co-writer Dean Sipling, whose background is film and television, bring the pairing into a thoroughly contemporary world of intercepted emails, sinister insinuation and sharp retorts. Their ‘guilty until proved innocent’ plot … is thoroughly watchable and believable – perhaps as a result of Ball’s professional insights and DS Dom Lucas’ services as police advisor to the production” Barbara Lewis – The Stage

2015 will see the publication of three monographs featuring fine art photography by Christopher John Ball. Watch this blog for further details.

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