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28.03.14

Atos ‘removed’ from Work Capability Assessment contract

Atos Healthcare is to exit its £500m contract to assess whether benefit claimants are “fit-to-work” a year ahead of schedule, the government has confirmed.

Ministers, however, have made clear that Atos will not receive any compensation from the taxpayer and had made a “substantial” financial settlement to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to terminate the contract early.

Disabilities minister Mike Penning told the BBC a new company would be appointed in early 2015 and Atos would not receive “a single penny of compensation”.

Last month, Atos said it was seeking to end its government contract under which it carried out the Work Capability Assessments (WCA). In the last 24 hours, though, the government stressed that Atos was “removed” from the contract, rather than the firm choosing to “walk away”.

Penning added that the government was looking for a provider to replace Atos “with the view to increasing the number of assessments and reducing waiting times”.

Commenting on the early exit of Atos from the WCA contract, Jenny Gulliford, policy and research officer at The Work Foundation, said: “This has several implications for the future of the WCA. It is imperative that the next provider is given sufficient time to implement a smooth hand-over. A poorly handled transfer could negatively impact both the effectiveness of the WCA and the individuals being assessed.”

However, there already seems to have been some confusion over the exiting of the contract. Atos said on its website: “There has been an announcement today regarding Atos Healthcare’s contract to undertake WCA on behalf of the DWP.

“We have seen that this has caused some confusion for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants, especially those who currently have appointments to attend a face to face assessment.

“To clarify, we are continuing to complete WCA for anyone already referred to us by the DWP and those referred going forwards. If you have been asked to attend an assessment please do attend as planned. The WCA process that you will go through has not been changed.”

Gulliford stated that while WCA is based on sound intent and principles, it currently lacks public trust.

“The DWP should ensure that re-establishing it is a prominent feature of the contracting process in order to re-affirm the WCA’s role as a support-focused assessment of functional capacity, rather than its perception as an unsympathetic, quota-driven gateway to ESA,” she said. “It is vital that individuals feel genuinely supported in their efforts to find employment suited to their capability rather than feeling punished for incapacity.”

(Image:  Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire)

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Comments

John   08/04/2015 at 01:26

It is about time ATOS was got rid of,they lied on my report, i have two assessments with this lot, the first a male looked at me and talked to me like i was something he had scraped off the bottom of his shoe,the second was female and she was a very nasty person, she lied a few times on my report, i informed the DWP, ATOS and the judge at my tribunal but i never heard anything back. Reading posts on the 4UP site which is for people having benefit problems quite a lot of people complained ATOS lied and or omitted information on their reports. Good riddance.

Sara Scrimshaw   07/09/2016 at 23:53

Atos has made my life an utter misery, and it has given way to continued anxiety depressive moods, emotional break dows self harming, no freedom and I can no longer put up with them constantly harrassing me its driving me demented, and I wish they would kjust leave us alone, and allow us to have our own say our own Gp's I am sick of living of the Government I wish I had a job but autism is a lifetime condition for me and its a two way trap that if u get a job everything myself and my cat survive on would be taken off me, so why cant they see the damage and the killing of vunerable people is going on they are causing constant vunerable people to end there lives because of them

Sara Scrimshaw   07/09/2016 at 23:54

Atos has made my life an utter misery, and it has given way to continued anxiety depressive moods, emotional break dows self harming, no freedom and I can no longer put up with them constantly harrassing me its driving me demented, and I wish they would kjust leave us alone, and allow us to have our own say our own Gp's I am sick of living of the Government I wish I had a job but autism is a lifetime condition for me and its a two way trap that if u get a job everything myself and my cat survive on would be taken off me, so why cant they see the damage and the killing of vunerable people is going on they are causing constant vunerable people to end there lives because of them.

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