A New Place Of Exile

Richard Hutton

Tag: Atos

ATOS Make £40 million Profit From Work Capability Assessments, While Woman In Need Of Constant Care Is Denied Support

An Atos report declared that a severely disabled woman, Ruth Amin, was capable of work, and should begin seeking employment within the following 12 months. Despite requiring constant one-to-one care, having no concept of danger, and needing to attend life skills classes in order to learn “practical things like how to make a sandwich or a cup of tea”, Amin was referred to the Work Related Activity Group, and mandated to begin preperations for securing employment. Hundreds of thousands of former claimants of incapacity benefit have had the same experience during the last three years. Amin’s assessment report contained a number of glaring errors – including classifying her as male.

Mencap consider Amin’s case to be one of the less extreme examples:

“The evidence we’ve seen suggests an assessment process that isn’t working for lots of people with a learning disability. An assessment designed to determine a person’s ‘fitness for work’ needs to take into account the realities of the barriers experienced by disabled people in getting a job – things like job availability, the prejudices of employers, the support people need to overcome the barriers they face. The assessment in its current form just doesn’t do that.”

By contrast to disabled people being denied financial support, and being treated so poorly, ATOS are set to make £40 million profit from its assessments of the disabled. According to the Daily Record, these figures were unwittingly brought to light by a DWP report, which had not been censored properly:

Titled “Atos Risk Management Plan”, the dossier shows a predicted £40,535,679 profit from the £206million Atos contract for Scotland and northern England. That would pay the disability living allowance of 10,851 people for a year, based on the average weekly payment of £71.84. Atos will collect the colossal sum if they manage to put 15 per cent more people through their tests than broadly expected.

Even if the number of tests carried out is in line with predictions, they will make £28,636,419 by 2017 – enough to pay a year’s disability allowance for 7664 people. And if they drop 15 per cent below their expected total, Atos will still be in the money, making a profit of £16,712,945.

The Daily Record article contains a number of first-hand accounts of people subject to assessments, and declared fit for work. For other accounts, see the Guardian’s letter page ‘Terrible Human Cost Of Benefit Cuts’.  The Guardian also have a video of Ruth Amin’s mother, Cecilila, discussing her daughter’s assessment by ATOS. For another article about ATOS £40 million profit, see ‘Campaigners’ fury as controversial disability test company Atos set to land huge £40m profit’ by The Mirror.

For an example of how the government censors data relating to ATOS’ cash-flow, see: ATOS Financial Risk Management, published in blacked-out form by the UK Parliament.

Citizens Advice Calls For Financial Penalties On Atos

“Citizens Advice today renewed its call for the government to impose financial penalties on Atos for every inaccurate work capability assessment report that they produce.

The call follows National Audit Office criticism of the Department for Work and Pensions’ failure to penalise Atos – the private company with whom it has a contract to carry out ‘fitness for work’ medical assessments – for under-performance.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

“We wouldn’t allow a private contractor to let us down on the Olympics, we can’t allow one to let down disabled people. Mistakes by Atos have a human cost and a cost to the tax payer. Getting medical assessments right first time is absolutely essential to ensuring that seriously ill and disabled people get the support they are entitled to, and cutting the number of unnecessary appeals.

“Private companies on government contracts must be accountable to the public. Government should act now to put in place regular, independent monitoring of the accuracy of work capability assessment (WCA) reports and look at imposing financial penalties on Atos for every inaccurate report that they produce.”

CAB advisers helped with more than 97,000 ESA problems in the three months January to March 2012 – up 71 per cent compared with the same quarter last year, making ESA the fastest growing advice issue seen in bureaux.

In the same three month period, bureaux recorded an 82 per cent increase in advice about appeals against ESA decisions. Over a quarter of all advice given by bureaux about ESA concerns appeals. Latest official DWP figures say 32 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”.

http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/press_20120817

For further reading see Right first time? An indicative study of the accuracy of work capability assessment reports which discusses research indicating that “many seriously ill and disabled people are being wrongly denied benefits because of serious inaccuracies in an unacceptably high number of medical assessment reports” used to decide who qualifies for Employment Support Allowance.