Atos is to quit its contract to assess whether benefits claimants are fit to work, the government has announced.  It follows government criticism over “significant quality failures”.  Disabilities Minister Mike Penning said a new company would be appointed in early 2015, and Atos would not receive “a single penny of compensation”.

Atos, whose contract had been due to end in August 2015, had previously said it would carry on with the tests until a new company could be put in place.

Claimants applying for employment and support allowance must take a work-capability assessment to see how their disability or illness affects their ability to work.

Disability campaigners have described the work tests as “ridiculously harsh and extremely unfair”.

Last summer, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) identified “significant quality failures” in the written reports Atos produced after tests and put a plan for improvement in place.

But in February, the DWP said standards had declined unacceptably.

Mr Penning said the government was looking for a provider to replace Atos “with the view to increasing the number of assessments and reducing waiting times”.

He said: “I am pleased to confirm that Atos will not receive a single penny of compensation from the taxpayer for the early termination of their contract.

“Quite the contrary, Atos has made a substantial financial settlement to the department.”