New assessors for benefits announced - our reaction in The
3 August 2012
chief executive Steve Ford is quoted in The Independent today,
following news that private company Atos has been chosen to
carry out assessments for the new Personal Independence
Steve's letter to The Independent, he says that Atos winning
the contract to assess another crucial benefit for people with
Parkinson's is "hugely concerning".
How can someone with Parkinson's have a report that implies they'll be ready for work in 6, 12 or 18 months?
This is nothing short of insulting.
Steve Ford, quoted in The Independent
Atos IT Services UK Ltd is the company who operates the
controversial Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) 'fitness to
Multi-million pound contract
Atos has been given a multi-million pound contract to
assess claimants of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), including
people with Parkinson's.
PIP will replace Disability Living
Allowance (DLA) from April 2013 for new claimants.
And between October 2013 and March 2016, existing working
age claimants on DLA will be invited to apply for PIP instead.
On Monday this week, documentaries from Channel 4's
BBC's Panorama revealed pressure on government-contracted
assessors to keep down numbers of people declared as too ill to
Stressful appeals and retests
In his letter to The Independent, Steve Ford says:
"Assessments carried out by Atos have led to many people being
forced to appeal against decisions that are plainly wrong.
"We want the companies operating the new tests to promise to do
a much better job over new benefit assessments for Personal
We strongly urge Atos and the other selected contractor, Capita
Business Services Ltd, to commit to the
Disability Benefits Consortium's pledge to ensure that the
tests are operated fairly, openly and accountably.
This would save money on bureaucracy and avoidable costs.
Fitness for work tests under scrutiny
What do you think about Employment and Support Allowance fitness to work tests?
Let us know so we can feed your views into the independent review.
After all this publicity, it's really important that people with
Parkinson's let us know their experiences.
There is an
independent review of the Employment and Support Allowance Work
Capability Assessment currently taking place.
Let us know what you think of the
ESA fitness to work tests to feed into that review.
And behind the scenes we are doing our best to improve the
actual tests the assessors use.
In 2011 we published a report with other charities on how to
improve tests for those with fluctuating conditions, such as
Read the report: Employment and Support
Allowance Work Capability Assessment review - Making it work for
fluctuating conditions (PDF, 610KB)
Now the Government has asked us to develop our ideas into
something they can trial against the current assessment.
This trial will test how our changes would really benefit people
with fluctuating conditions. This is great news but it's very early
days, so watch this space.