This morning it was announced that Atos is terminating its contract managing Work Capability Assessments, which test if a benefit claimant is fit-for-work. In response, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind has said:
“Mind welcomes any efforts by the Government to improve the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). We have had long standing concerns about how Atos has carried out these assessments and we hope that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will ensure that any new providers have the right skills, expertise and culture to carry out assessments in a fair, effective and accurate manner.
“This is also the moment to make significant changes to the WCA test itself. People with mental health problems have told us that it was poorly administered by Atos and just as many people have told us about the failings of the test.
“We also welcome the Government's response to the Fourth Independent Review of the WCA, carried out by Dr Litchfield. By engaging with the Independent Reviews over a number of years, Mind and other organisations have helped to bring about improvements to the WCA process which has led to many more people with disabilities and illnesses accessing Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), as shown by the most recent statistics, released yesterday.
“However, we feel there are fundamental issues with the WCA process, and the design of ESA, which have not been properly addressed by these reviews, or by the DWP. Very few people are actually managing to move closer to work through this process, and in fact many people are finding that the stress and pressure they are put under is making their health worse and a return to work less likely. Mind believes this is because the assessment process is still too inaccurate and insensitive, and the support people receive following this assessment is not sufficiently personalised or specialist.”