HATED benefits firm Atos say they want to end their cruel fit-to-work tests for the Con-Dems – because they don’t work. A nationwide campaign spearheaded by the Record has forced the French firm to seek an early exit from their £500million Government contract.
Atos faced mass protests this week outside their 45 offices, including their Glasgow HQ.
And last night, the firm revealed they have been in discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions since October last year with a view to ending their deal.
A spokesman said: “In its current form, it is not working for claimants, for DWP or for Atos Healthcare.
“For several months now we have been endeavouring to agree an early exit from the contract, which is due to expire in August 2015.”
Atos have become a lightning rod for discontent over Coalition welfare reforms, which aim to shift more people off benefits and into work.
For the past three years, the company have been under fire for their handling of work capability tests. More than 160 incidents of the public assaulting or abusing Atos staff were recorded each month last year.
An insider said: “It is becoming incredibly difficult for our staff – it’s pretty unpleasant.”
A third of Atos decisions have been overturned on appeal and it is alleged that people with terminal cancer or other serious illnesses were denied benefits after their assessments.
Former Atos nurse Joyce Drummond, from Glasgow, has been leading the campaign against the firm in Scotland. She said: “This is a major victory for those who have fought against Atos. No company should ever make profit out of other people’s misery, denying benefits to the most vulnerable people in society.
“The real culprits, the Con-Dem Government, must now admit they got it wrong and take private companies out of the benefits system entirely.”
Atos have been the sole providers of work capability tests since 1998. They earn revenues of £110million a year.
The Record’s campaign has highlighted how Atos assessments have brought misery to thousands of disabled people.
Only last week, we revealed that 43 per cent of people who appealed Atos decisions saw them overturned.
Among the many heartbreaking stories was that of David Barr, 28, who threw himself from the Forth Road Bridge after his benefits were axed because he was ruled fit to work.
Atos said he should find a job despite being on anti-psychotic drugs, sleeping pills and anti-depressants.