A DERBY man who was told he was fit for work, despite doctors insisting he was not, is unconvinced that a change in the firm doing the assessing will make much difference. Atos, the firm that assesses disability benefit claimants for the Government, has quit its contract early.
But Parkinson’s disease sufferer Robin Mitchell, of Shelton Lock, questioned whether it would make any difference.
Atos confirmed yesterday it would not see out the remaining 17 months of its contract. It follows Government criticism over “significant quality failures”.
In 2012, the company sparked outrage when it told Mr Mitchell he would have to undergo repeated checks to test whether he was fit for work.
This was despite doctors telling Mr Mitchell he had no chance of getting better.
At the time, Mr Mitchell, who often could not dress or feed himself – called Atos “disgusting”.
Responding to yesterday’s news, the 63-year-old said: “I don’t know whether it’s good news or bad news. It depends what happens now. Will the company that takes over be any different?”
Atos has been under fire over the number of assessments it has made as well as waiting times.
Ministers stressed that Atos would not receive any compensation from the taxpayer for the early termination of the contract, and had made a “substantial” financial settlement to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Mike Penning, Minister for Disabled People, said: “The previous Government appointed Atos as the sole provider for carrying out Work Capability Assessments and, since then, we have carried out several reviews and made significant improvements to the assessment.
“We are seeking a new provider to replace Atos, with the view to increasing the number of assessments and reducing waiting times.
“I am pleased to confirm Atos will not receive a single penny of compensation from the taxpayer for the early termination of their contract, quite the contrary.”
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said: “I doubt there’s a single disabled person who’ll be sorry to hear Atos will no longer be running the fit-for-work tests.
“We welcome the minister’s decision. We need a move away from a fundamentally flawed system.”