In an exclusive report, The Londoner says that the government contractor Atos was fined £30 million for errors in its delivery of the work capability assessments (WCA).
It was announced at the time that Atos had made a “substantial financial settlement” to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), for “significant quality failures” in its reports on people’s ability to work.
The IT company – which the Department of Work and Pensions put in charge of deciding which people on benefits were well enough to work – had its contract unceremoniously cancelled a year early this March, following a campaign spearheaded by Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Until now details of the fine have been kept quiet to avoid embarrassing the company, which is leaving the contract in February 2015.
When asked, the DWP would only respond with:
“They are paying us a financial settlement but we can’t disclose the amount for commercial reasons”.
When Atos was asked the same question: “It’s all legally bound up, we can’t comment,” was the reply from its company spokesperson.
But is the £30 million correct? “Will you tell me who gave you the figure?” was Atos’s only reply.
What we would like to know is: what exactly were the problems with Atos’ work? The DWP never appeared to care about the poor quality of reports before.
So, was it that Atos were putting too many people in the support group without medicals?
Were decision makers disagreeing with large numbers of Atos findings?
Or was it costing the Department too much when claimants appealed because the reports were inaccurate?
Given that claimants’ well-being is very much tied up with these assessments we have a right to know exactly what it was that was going wrong.
Will those people adversely affected by distress due to this company’s apparent incompetence be compensated?
Read the full article in the London Evening Standard.
Thanks to Robert Livingstone for the art work
Thanks also to Benefits and Work