Written Ministerial Statement
Thursday 27 March 2014
THE DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS
Early exit of Atos from WCA contract
The Minister for Disabled People (Mike Penning MP):The previous Government appointed Atos the sole provider for carrying out Work Capability Assessments in 2008. Since this Government inherited the contract to deliver the Work Capability Assessment, we have been committed to a process of continuous improvement.
Yes the previous Govt did appoint Atos, however you renewed it and turned into nothing like it was and far from improving it you made the lives of many seriously ill and disabled a living hell and that continues with the PIP ASSESSMENT that ATOS lied to get.
When this Government took over responsibility for the Work Capability Assessment we were concerned about the nature of the contract and the process we inherited from the previous Government. We immediately identified the need for considerable improvements and we undertook a series of reviews to improve the balance.
For you it was never about getting the balance right, it was all about welfare reform and slashing just Support from the disabled community that is is clear from the closures of Remploy and the independent living fund which you continue with despite a court judgment saying it was illegal.
When I took over responsibility, I decided to build on the work identified by my predecessors who engaged Professor Harrington, a respected Occupational Physician, to undertake the initial Independent Review. We have taken forward the recommendations from the three Harrington reviews and these have significantly improved the assessment. Today am I pleased to announce we are publishing our response to the first review by his successor Doctor Litchfield.
You were not happy with Professor Harrington’s reports that is why you replaced him with Doctor Litchfield.
Today I am announcing that following detailed negotiations with Atos, the Government has reached a settlement for Atos to exit the contract to deliver Work Capability Assessments before it is due to end in August 2015.
Glad to here it about time as Government has been dragging it’s fet and nothing would have been done how had it not been for the hard work of various campaigners and the few MP’s who did care.
I am pleased to confirm that Atos willnot receive a single penny of compensation from the taxpayer for the early termination of their contract, quite the contrary, I can also confirm that Atos has made a substantial financial settlement to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Will any of those wrongly assessed and who have suffered mentally be compensated out of that pot because at least you could use it to finance the Independent Living Fund.
It is important to outline that we have learnt from the mistakes of the last contract agreed by the previous government. We have negotiated an agreement covering the remaining term that is more robust, with anagreed performance regime that gives us confidence delivery goals will be
achieved. It is that same commercial rigour that will underpin the new procurement for these services that I am announcing today.
My how you love blaming the previous Government for your errors and Maladministration, I trust the new contract will have a fining clause aswell as a means for the public to get redress if the new provider makes the same errors as ATOS as only that can be learning from your mistakes.
To ensure protection for claimants anda smooth transition, I believe the most effective way to stabilise and then increase delivery is to bring in one national provider to deliver the Work Capability Assessment, initially using elements of the Atos infrastructure. In the longer term, I am committed to moving to multiple providers to increase competition. My department is committed tolearning the lessons from these past failures and ensuring they are reflected in the design and management of future contracts, as well as the Department’s own commercial capability.
Anything ATOS has done in the past has to go including the Lima Software used as it is not fit for purpose and is were all the wrong assessments extend from. The next contractor needs to also instil some moral, compassion and understanding.
The plan is for the new contract to be awarded later this year, with a view to the new provider taking responsibility for delivery of Work Capability Assessments by 2015. It is expected that the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment regulations will apply and most of the Atos employees will transfer to the new provider. The new provider should therefore be able to step into the contract without disrupting the
service. My absolute priority for the new provider will be to deliver the best service possible for claimants, increase the volume of assessments carried out and reduce waiting times. In the meantime, we will focus on delivery of assessments for those making new claims and those who have changes in their condition.
This sounds more of the same however I hope these employees who are transferred are also retrained so none of the failures of the past are carried forward.
Atos is announcing today that the company will be withdrawing from delivery of Work Capability Assessments in Great Britain (Atos will continue to deliver these assessments under its separate contract in Northern Ireland). Atos will continue to deliver Personal Independence Payment assessments in two regions of Great Britain.
Why are they allowed to remain in Northern Island? the company is defunct so needs to go in totality and that means for pip contract also as it is noted it is not going well there either.
There is strong evidence that work is good for physical and mental well-being, and that being out of work can contribute to poorer health and other negative outcomes. While we will always support people who genuinely cannot work, this Government is committed to getting as many people as possible into work. Notwithstanding the considerable improvements that we have had to make to the Work Capability Assessment process we inherited, our reforms mean that over 650,000 people are now looking for, or preparing for, work. I am committed to ensuring that the assessments are fair and accurate and, together with robust contract management, the recommendations made by Dr Litchfield in his independent review will help us continue to improve the Work Capability Assessment.
Whilst I agree there are some that can make inroads in to work, there are many who cant and doing so will make there health worse not better indeed there has been many tragic case of people being forced back to work who clearly cannot like cancer patients, those in coma and many others this needs to change and change fast.
The 365 day time limit also needs to change as there are many who need a longer period especially those with mental health problems they also need longer that 30 days to return forms and finally
WE NEED A MINISTER FOR DISABLED WHO IS DISABLED AS IT IS ONLY THOSE WHO REALLY UNDERSTAND THE ISSUES THE DISABLED COMMUNITIES FACE ON A DAILY BASIS.