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How did the disgraced Atos get a £184m disability assessment contract?

atos-killsIt is bizarre that the hated Atos, whose reputation was destroyed by its punitive mishandling of work capability assessments of the disabled, should be awarded a multi-million contract for the new personal independence payments across London and the south of England. In one sense it is not surprising because the Tories, having privatised major public services, is now over-dependent on a very small clique of semi-monopolistic private providers – largely G4S, Capita, Serco, A4E, and Atos. But there is another more sinister reason why Atos got this contract, and that is that they lied in their tender document.

They claimed that 16 NHS trusts were among those who had “contractually agreed” to carry out assessments in 740 sites. In the event only 4 NHS trusts finally signed up and there were only 96 sites. That meant they were exaggerating on such a scale as to amount to a deliberate, downright falsehood. It also meant that disabled persons would be faced with having to make long, difficult journeys.

The insouciance and brutality of Atos’s record over their WCA work may never be fully known because so much of it has been hushed up by the DWP. Last week I put down a PQ asking:

How many claimants died in each month of the last 3 years (a) after attending a work capability assessment and (b) having been assessed as fit for work and then appealed, but did before that appeal was heard?’

The answer from the Minister was ‘the information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost’. That is another DWP lie. It is unbelievable that that this information is not stored and readily available. The reason it is being withheld is that the total number of deaths, which undoubtedly run into thousands, is shameful and profoundly embarrassing to the government. Nevertheless Atos was still awarded two huge PIP contracts worth nearly £400m in 2012.

The senior vice-president of Atos, when questioned about this by the PAC, tried to slither out of it by claiming it was ‘not unusual’ for a tender document to diverge from a contract. But on this scale! This line of squirming was rightly repudiated by the rebuttal: “so it’s usual to lie in a tender document?” The PAC went further by accusing the DWP of colluding with Atos since they knew Atos did not have the contracts in place, but advised them to “put it in anyway because it would make the tender look better”.

6 Comments

  1. William Jones says:

    One of the more ridiculous jibes by the Tories when they look to the 2015 Election is;”Don’t hand the keys back to those who crashed the car”.

    Well the Tory led Government are expert at doing this when we consider the failures of ATOS,G4S etc in past contracts.They decide to reward their failures with yet more contracts,you couldn’t make it up!

  2. swatantra says:

    So ATOS duped a Labour Govt, a Labour Govt, into giving them that contract. So thats all right then? Where was the due diligence? If there was any. Like any application form it was slightlty massaged.

    1. Robert says:

      Spot on Swat labour had all the time to look into not only ATOS of course but the love affair with Unum as it’s known now.

  3. James Martin says:

    Yes, the Blair-Brown government created the anti-trade union ATOS monster (and other scummy robbing parasites like A4E) when they began to privatise the welfare state and the jobs of accountable (and unionised) civil servants who had previously delivered the services.

    Rather like academies (another New Labour gift to the nation) I laugh whenever I hear or see a Labour politician now being critical of their own creations, and can’t even be bothered to say ‘we told you this would happen…’

    1. Robert says:

      I’ve just been through my ATOS medical the doctor wrote unable to work now or in the future due to chronic spinal injuries, ATOS passed me fit to work lucky the DWP carried out a review and over turned it, under labour I would have had to go to an appeal.

      Unum Provident the medical Mansell Alyward and Freud all New labour.

  4. Robert says:

    By the way ATOS has just signed a nice new contract to do PIP’s medical with another cowboy out fit, so out of one bed into another.

    £100 million contract has been dumped for a nice £180. million.

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