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Atos: flaws in the Government’s case exposed

Several recent events have further highlighted the fault lines in government policy and practice over the Atos work assessments:

1   The debate which I initiated in the House on 21 March finally revealed, when the stand-in junior minister Esther McVey finally got around to it after all the padded guff, that the reason the minister Mark Hoban refused to meet the delegation from Spartacus was a single sentence in a near-100 page Spartacus report which was anyway a quote from an external expert, not written at all by the authors of the report. I therefore wrote to Hoban on 26 March renewing my request for the delegation, but have so far not heard, so I will look out for him in the lobby tomorrow and trust this time he will not fob me off with another false or lame excuse – particularly when there have been some significant developments on another, related front.

2   Atos, the French IT business, has now been awarded the lion’s share of the new PIP contracts to which people are being transferred from DLA, but what is striking about these latest arrangements is that the face-to-face interviews will be carried out by 14 Atos sub-contractors – one does wonder why Atos is needed at all, and why the DWP can’t arrange directly with these sub-contractors. The latter are mostly NHS trusts, enabling work to be carried out in the community. Lanarkshire NHS, for example, are using trained physiotherapists, occupational therapists and medics to carry out the assessments. So the real point is obviously this: if these trained medical personnel employed by an NHS trust are being used for PIP, why not also for the WCAs?

3   Atos are also now saying that for the PIP contracts they will present information from a wider variety of sources, at an earlier stage, thus reducing the number of successful appeals. Nick Barry, general manager of the PIP contracts for Atos, says “We don’t make the rules; we apply the DWP criteria. I can’t control the policy, but I can ensure we have sensitively trained staff“. Bully for him, so why not apply the same methods for the WCAs?

4   It has now emerged that in one place at least in England the Harrington recommendations have been implemented in full, notably lengthy and detailed interviews which explore the capability for work very thoroughly.   It means that the DWP guidelines (we mustn’t say targets) of undertaking 11 interviews a day are reduced to 4, but the result is that the assessments have been found to be almost 100% correct – quite apart from avoiding all the fear, pain and distress caused by superficial examinations and wrong conclusions.   So why can’t these methods be introduced everywhere?

We want an answer, urgently, Mr. Hoban, on all these points.


  1. Angela says:

    When and where are these new more detailed and lengthy interviews being implemented? I hadn’t heard about this before even though I try to keep up on this topic.
    By being “almost 100% correct” do you mean the results are the same as the claimants previous WCAs, or that they agree with the claimants own opinion of their sickness/condition? Whatever the case the fact they are almost 100% correct is wonderful news.

  2. ian rankin says:

    Why is there no concerted effort from the opposition politicial parties against atos and the dwp.Surely they have enough evidence to attack the lies that keep emerging from these organisations.And yes.!.i was a victim of the atos med assessment.Going through the appeals process at the moment.

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