Protesters gathered in Croydon this afternoon to voice their displeasure against work capability assessments.

The peaceful protest started at 8am outside Stephenson House in Cherry Orchard Road and there was a minute’s silence at 1pm.

There were a host of different speakers and there were also some musical performances.

Steve Broe, who led the protest, said they disagreed with the way work capability assessments were carried out.

It was part of a nationwide day of protest held today against Atos, the company used by the Government to carry out ‘fit for work’ tests for sickness and disability benefit claimants.

Last July, whistleblower Dr Greg Wood allegedly lifted the lid on the “toxic culture” within Atos, and an e-petition by the ‘War on Welfare’ campaign group, calling for a halt to work capability assessments and an inquiry into welfare reform, has gained more than 100,000 signatures to try and force a House of Commons debate.

A DWP spokesman said: “The WCA was introduced in 2008 by the previous Government, which appointed Atos as the sole provider. We have made, and continue to make, significant improvements to the WCA process.

“However we think it's right to see what work people can do with the right support, rather than write people off on out-of-work sickness benefits as sometimes happened in the past.”

A spokesman for Atos Healthcare said: “We absolutely respect people’s right to peaceful protest, and we are well aware that being assessed for benefit entitlement can be a difficult experience. However, lobbying against Atos will have no impact on welfare policy.

"It is not, nor has it ever been, our role to make decisions on who can or cannot receive benefits.

“We carry out assessments following strict guidelines and criteria written by Government. For the parts of the process we are responsible for, we work hard to treat people with care and respect.”