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Citizens Advice has renewed its call for the Government
to impose financial penalties on Atos - the private company
contracted to carry out Work Capability
Assessments for Employment and Support
Allowance (ESA) - for every inaccurate report that they
The call follows the criticism of the Department for Work and
Pensions by the National Audit Office for failing to penalise Atos
for under performance.
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Chief Executive, 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 compared with the same
quarter last year, making ESA the fastest growing advice issue seen
In the same three month period, CAB bureaux recorded an 82%
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%.
Read the Citizens Advice press release about Atos and financial
penalties (link opens in a new window)
Sources: BBC News article about Atos
and the National Audit Office (link opens in a new window) and
Guardian news article NAO criticises Atos benefits contract (link
opens in a new window)
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