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Citizens Advice renews call for Atos to receive financial penalties - Turn2us

Citizens Advice press release about Atos and penaltiesCitizens 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 produce.

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."

Citizens Advice and ESA queries

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 bureaux.

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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