As I have already said , it is my intention with these blogs is to tell you what I have found. I rely on the researchers who have produced these articles to be right. You of course can make up your own mind.
For those of you who live in the bliss of not knowing who Atos is, I will enlighten you. They are the company that the Government deems fit to spend our taxes on to assess sick people, (work capability assessment -WCA), to see if they are sick enough to receive sickness benefit (Employment and Support Allowance or ESA).
I have a problem, and it is that when I see articles which question the validity of Atos and WCA I want to know more, so I start searching and slowly a picture emerges. I will share with you what I have found and what conclusion I have come to.
Firstly I found this:
03 December, 2012
Work capability assessment (WCA) appeals cost more than £26m in the first half of 2012/2013, according to Employment Minister Mark Hoban.
In a written answer to parliament on the cost to the public purse of administering WCA appeals, Mr Hoban said –
‘The costs to the public purse for the appeals process span costs to DWP as well as Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).
DWP is responsible for paying HMCTS for any additional appeals over the baseline set in 2007 when the tribunals service transferred from DWP to Ministry of Justice. DWP and HMCTS currently negotiate and agree additional funding annually to cover any forecast increase in appeals.
The estimate for the first half of 2012/2013 financial year for the cost of appeals is £11.3m for DWP in respect of staff costs of employment and support allowance and incapacity benefit reassessment appeals, plus a payment of £14.85m to HMCTS.’
My first thought was how can this be a cost effective way to spend our taxes? We are not talking about vast amounts of money for each individual here, because if a claimant is found fit for work, a single person will still get £71 job-seekers allowance, so in fact we are talking about the extra money claimants get if sick: These amount are £28.15 (if sick, but not sick enough to be in the support group) or £34.05 if placed in support group over a year. This equates to £1463.80per year and £1770.06per year if placed in support group
Curious to find earlier statistics I looked a little deeper and found this:
Citizens Advice Bureaux see disability benefit problems soar by 67%
17 January 2013
As MPs debate issues with Atos, new figures just released by national charity Citizens Advice reveal that last year CAB advisers in England and Wales helped people with 430,000 problems about Employment and Support Allowance, the benefit paid to people too sick or disabled to work – up 67% on the previous year.
An unprecedented 90,000 of these inquiries specifically concerned appeals. A further 70,000 were about the controversial Work Capability Assessments (WCA) carried out by Atos and used to decide if people are fit for work.
Citizens Advice today renewed its call for Atos to be fined for every inaccurate WCA report it produces where a decision is overturned at appeal. Official government figures show the cost of appeals from 2009/10-2011/12 to be £60 million. DWP figures show 38 per cent of appeals against an ESA decision are successful and CAB advisers estimate the success rate at appeal where someone receives specialist CAB advice and is represented is around 80 per cent.
As, at the end of last year, and in fact today, there is no sign the level of appeals stopping, I feel that I can safely say that we can double that figure of £26m – that’s a whopping £112million up to the end of 2012.
………. of course one link leads to another and it wasn’t long before I found this:
“The controversial disability benefits contract between Paralympics sponsor Atos and the Government is too weak to ensure value for money for taxpayers, the spending watchdog has found.” (17th August 2012)
Two things caught my eye
1. “Paralympics sponsor ATOS” – I leave you to ponder this.
2. “…the Government is too weak to ensure value for money for taxpayers.” – The Government too weak? OK , lets see what there is to find….
Here we are….
Chair of the Public Accounts Committee responds to new report from the National Audit Office
“The department’s management of this contract has been unacceptably loose and permits loopholes that can all too easily be exploited by contractors. I am stunned to discover that the department does not check and challenge the key performance data that supports invoices. The financial model that informs contract charges was designed by Atos and the department lacks an understanding of how it even works. The Department’s inaccurate forecasting of demand for services has undermined its ability to hold Atos to the terms of its contract.”
And then another thought came into my now over processing brain. ATOS holds the contract to assess people who were in receipt of sickness benefit (Incapacity Benefit), and is still in the process of moving them over to the latest version, Employment and Support Allowance or return them to Jobseekers Allowance, (unemployment benefit) if they failed the assessment.
This year Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being changed to Personal Independent Allowance which has a budget of 80% of the current DLA budget, Bettcha cant guess who got the contract ?
Atos calls in public sector to take on outsourced medical assessments
“Company charged with carrying out ‘benefit tests’ gives £22m contract to Lanarkshire NHS as MPs query value of deal.” – So Atos has made a profit before it even starts the contracts.
The Social Security Advisory Committee, questions Ester Mcvey, Minister for Disabled People:
“Esther McVey: It is quite a complex contract that they have entered into.
Teresa Pearce: I bet it is.
Question 2 – 9 and Q57 – 62
I was interested in the stats quoted in this, but, I need to write the %’s down to really understand the figures, and then there’s the hypothetical figures for 2018 – I’m confused, why put them in, if they’re hypothetical .
– Present a business plan to any bank on this basis and I don’t think you’d get a loan.”
So as I said in the my first blog, I want to show people are being affected, so I am including this article as it shows what people are going through already.
The DWP is responsible for the actions of Atos and any other private companies that they enter into a contract with. They all know that the system is stacked against the claimant and all refuse to do anything to remedy the situation.