Watchdog attacks the government’s handling “fiasco”of disability payout

22 June 2014

A report by parliament’s public spending watchdog, the public accounts committee has found that the government’s handling of personal independence payments (PIP) has been “nothing short of a fiasco” that has caused distress to thousands of sick and disabled people.

The outsourcing firm Atos, which was contracted to assess the eligibility of PIP claims, was singled out for criticism in the report for misleading the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about its capabilities when bidding for the £1bn contracts. It also found that many claims were delayed by more than six months, with some claimants taken to hospital due to the stress of the process and being unable to afford medically prescribed diets.

In addition, MPs examined paperwork containing bids for the contracts and found unfounded claims had been made by Atos that were untested by the government.

In response, the committee’s chair, Margaret Hodge, said that
“The DWP has let down some of the most vulnerable people in our society… the department’s failure to pilot the scheme meant that the most basic assumptions, such as how long assessments would take and how many would require face-to-face consultations, had not been fully tested and proved to be wrong.”