A council has become the first in the UK to pass a vote of ‘No Confidence’ in the private health firm responsible for assessing sick and disabled benefit claimants on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Islington Council say that benefit assessments, carried out by French firm Atos Healthcare, cause unnecessary suffering to thousands of sick and disabled people and that Atos make far too many mistakes when assessing those people’s benefit eligibility.
The vote comes in response to a report from a council scrutiny committee which claims that as many as 8,000 local disabled people could have their benefits cut when they are migrated away from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the new benefit for disabled people, Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Disabled people will be required to undergo face to face assessments and Atos is one of the private companies contracted by the DWP to help determine eligibility for the new disability benefit.
DLA, and its replacement PIP are seen by many as vital financial support which will allow disabled people to retain their independence and obtain access to disabled persons support services. Both DLA and the new PIP is available to disabled people both in and out of work and for many they could mean the difference between holding on to a job or joining millions of others on the dole.
Islington Council have helped a number of local people appeal against Atos benefit assessments with a staggering success rate of 90%. It is this which has prompted concerns from Council leaders over Atos’s ability to fairly and accurately carry out assessments on disabled people for the new disability benefit PIP.
Read more at the Welfare News Service