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DWP and ATOS taken to task ... at last! / 19 October 2012

Crippen's cartoon about ATOS loopholes

Crippen's cartoon about ATOD/DWP loopholes

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Someone in Parliament has finally found the guts to stand up and accuse the DWP of being totally inept in its dealings with ATOS.

I  didn't have much time for Margaret Hodge MP, especially when she was Minister for Disabled People, but her recent statement in the House of Commons as Chair of the Public Accounts Committe will have redeemed her in the eyes of many of us Crips.

Pulling no punches, she told MPs: "The DWP's management of this contract has been unacceptably loose and permits loopholes that can all too easily be exploited by contractors. I am stunned to discover that the department does not check and challenge the key performance data that supports invoices. The financial model that informs contract charges was designed by ATOS and the department lacks an understanding of how it even works." She added: "The Department's inaccurate forecasting of demand for services has undermined its ability to hold ATOS to the terms of its contract."

Ms Hodge then went on to tell her colleagues that People with disabilities (sic) must be able to access the benefits to which they are entitled. She said: "The DWP relies on medical assessments to make sure it awards the right benefits to the right people. Getting this wrong can have devastating impacts on individuals and their families."

It is public record that Atos Healthcare billed the DWP for over £110 million to conduct the medical assessment of some 740,000 people in 2011-12. Over the same period, around 20,000 people received substandard assessments. In March this year, 1 in 4 cases was taking Atos more than 56 days to deal with.

Ms Hodge informed fellow MPs that this has resulted in distress, uncertainty and financial hardship for those people who are genuinely in need of and entitled to disability allowance. Indeed, she commented, it is a mark of this process's shortcomings that 38 per cent of appeals against the department's decisions on Employment and Support Allowance entitlement have been upheld.

She told MPs: "The number of substandard assessments must be slashed and the department needs to understand why so many appeals are successful.

Advising the DWP to "take immediate steps to get a tighter grip on this contract" she added that government wanted to see ATOS's performance improve dramatically

Concluding her statement, Ms Hodge said: "ATOS's performance must improve dramatically, and it is crucial that the department improves the accuracy of its forecasting so that it can take a much more robust line when contractors underperform rather than allowing them to hide behind unexpected demand."

Good on you Margaret ... better late than never!

 

PS. I do apologise for the poor caricature of Margaret Hodge, my only excuse is that it was drawn in a bit of a hurry ... I'll work on it though!

 

Keywords: disabled peoples movement,disabled peoples protest

Comments

Gaynor M Owen via FaceBook

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21 October 2012

@cynical - She probably was, but if her actions are making others sit up and listen I don't mind how stupid it'll make her look when the opposition find out. : )

Cynical Skeptik via FaceBook

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21 October 2012

Wasn't she one of those who drew up the original contract anyway? If anyone knows the loopholes it's her.. Aye. About time there was some plain speaking on this issue.

Andy via FaceBook

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19 October 2012

Well, she's redeemed herself as far as I'm concerned :)

Elysabeth Mccaig-scott via FaceBook

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19 October 2012

... and about bloody time too!

Crippen

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19 October 2012

Blimey Roger and Rich you're getting even more cynical than me! At least she's saying something that needed saying, albeit a bit late (and for whatever motives). She's put this out now in a press release which has been picked up by the Torygraph and the Daily Wail so the message will at least get through to those who think everything in the garden is rosy. I get so disheartened when I talk to non-crips who know nothing about what's really going on :-(

richard downes

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19 October 2012

Baloney!!! Crips me old mucker. Not what you say, what Hodge says. The ATOS test is designed to obstruct and penalise entitlement and she was one of the government back in the day who put the whole thing in place. Add this to the "no child abuse in Islington Care Homes on my watch" quotes and this all points to one unethical, uncaring politician. Maybe she could be redeemed if showed regret but she won't unless she captures the Blairite tendency to apologise when its expedient to do so.

Roger Jenkins

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19 October 2012

It's all very well Margaret Hodge trying to score some political points out of this sorry mess.

What everyone seems to be overlooking is that the 'loopholes' are a result of changing government policy and the recommendations from Professor Harrington.

When these points are publicised and understood, there will be a lot of red faces on both sides of parliament

Kevin Donnellon

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19 October 2012

I think it's a rather fair caricature of her! :)

Yes, I'm glad she's speaking out - but then again, in Opposition it's easier to criticise policies - she didn't criticise any policies when she was in Government though; the same Government who appointed ATOS in the first place [and the same Government who abolished ILF for new claimants, with complete abolition for all claimants set for 2015].

But I suppose we should be thankful she's finally realised what a complete shambles ATOS is.

Arty Farty

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19 October 2012

Fantastic ... me thinks the rats are starting to leave the sinking ship of government. Watch them all start to protest that they all knew about this and that they were just about to issue a statement about it! Although they might just fall back on the old 'we were only following orders'!!

Jayne Linney

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19 October 2012

I just LOVE this x