Disabled plunged into “distress and financial difficulties” by botched benefits test, watchdog warns

Darlington and Stockton Times: ATOS ATOS

DISABLED people have been plunged into “distress and financial difficulties” by a second botched benefits test, a watchdog warns today (Thursday).

The bungled introduction of the new personal independence payment (PIP) – being piloted in the region – is sharply criticised by the National Audit Office (NAO).

Its report warns that:  

  • It is taking 107 days – three-and-a-half months - to reach a decision on claims, instead of the expected 74 days.
  • Claims involving the terminally ill are taking 28 days – instead of ten days.
  • A backlog of 92,000 claims had built up by October last year, when the decision was taken to extend trials in parts of the North-East.
  • Each PIP claim costs an average £182 to administer – more than three times the £49 cost for disability living allowance (DLA), which it replaces.
  • The delays will leave a £140m black hole in the expected department for work and pensions savings of £740m.

The report highlighted how claimants were not told how long their claims would take, which was “creating distress and financial difficulties”.

This week, numerous MPs warned ministers that constituents were now reporting delays of six months or longer.

Condemning “poor early operational performance”, Amyas Morse, the NAO’s head, said: “The department did not allow enough time to test whether the assessment process could handle large numbers of claims.”

And Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which shadows the NAO, said she was “shocked” by the findings.

She added: “The current backlog and delays in processing claims are simply unacceptable and will no doubt cause real distress for vulnerable claimants.”

PIP came in for new claimants across the North-East last year and, from this month, for claimants “reporting a change in condition” in Darlington, York and Harrogate.

By 2018, around 210,000 disabled people in the North-East and North Yorkshire will all be re-tested and either moved onto PIP, or denied payments.

Ministers have predicted that the number of disabled people receiving PIP will be 600,000 lower than if DLA had been retained.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Britain’s most successful Paralympian, who lives in Redcar, has warned the shake-up has left many people “really scared”.

Claimants needing help to pay for assistance will receive the standard weekly rate (£53) or the enhanced rate (£79.15) – with extra money to help with mobility.

In the North-East, Atos – the company attempting to walk away from separate controversy over the re-testing of incapacity benefit claimants – has the contract for PIP tests.

A spokesman insisted it was committed to the PIP contract. More staff were being recruited and more letters being sent to claimants, to keep them better informed.

He said: “We appreciate that delays cause anxiety and frustration which is why we are taking immediate action to address the situation.”

Comments (16)

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11:10am Thu 27 Feb 14

Jonn says...

Some people claim there's no need for food banks! Well, this article suggests quite clearly that there is a need.
Some people claim that privatisation of services gives a better service and more value for taxpayers money. The ATOS shambles suggests they took hundreds of millions of taxpayers money and provided a sh*te service, causing unnecessary hardship and misery along the way. The same can be applied to G4S, Capita, Ingeus, Seetec, A4E, Avanta, Serco etc etc...
Remember, 'hard working taxpayers', this is our money.
Some people claim there's no need for food banks! Well, this article suggests quite clearly that there is a need. Some people claim that privatisation of services gives a better service and more value for taxpayers money. The ATOS shambles suggests they took hundreds of millions of taxpayers money and provided a sh*te service, causing unnecessary hardship and misery along the way. The same can be applied to G4S, Capita, Ingeus, Seetec, A4E, Avanta, Serco etc etc... Remember, 'hard working taxpayers', this is our money. Jonn
  • Score: 20

11:23am Thu 27 Feb 14

sineater says...

Remember what mr Lacey says ,there is no poverty !!!!!!!
Remember what mr Lacey says ,there is no poverty !!!!!!! sineater
  • Score: -6

1:05pm Thu 27 Feb 14

theWorkerScum says...

Yes john the gullible will of course blame atos, who provide professional health workers and follow government standards. Once enough moaning is done the government will give the contract to someone else to gain popularity who will follow the government standards and hopefully you are clever enough to see where this is going. You even quote company names and think the government is just the nice guy stuck in the middle, connect the dots for goodness sake. So you think public sector runs services better than private sector, lol. Do you have a job?
Yes john the gullible will of course blame atos, who provide professional health workers and follow government standards. Once enough moaning is done the government will give the contract to someone else to gain popularity who will follow the government standards and hopefully you are clever enough to see where this is going. You even quote company names and think the government is just the nice guy stuck in the middle, connect the dots for goodness sake. So you think public sector runs services better than private sector, lol. Do you have a job? theWorkerScum
  • Score: 0

1:20pm Thu 27 Feb 14

sineater says...

WORKER, STRANGER TO THE TRUTH AS ALWAYS,THE FACTS ARE THER FOR YOU IN THE ARTICLE,AND MOST PROFESSIONAL STAFF QUIT BECAUSE THY WERE DISGUSTED GENUINE SICK AND DISABLED WERE BEING TREATED SO B ADLY,NOW F**K OFF.
WORKER, STRANGER TO THE TRUTH AS ALWAYS,THE FACTS ARE THER FOR YOU IN THE ARTICLE,AND MOST PROFESSIONAL STAFF QUIT BECAUSE THY WERE DISGUSTED GENUINE SICK AND DISABLED WERE BEING TREATED SO B ADLY,NOW F**K OFF. sineater
  • Score: -8

2:08pm Thu 27 Feb 14

punkrocker says...

i had the miss fortune to attend the local job centre recently with a friend who suffers terrible ill health. at the interview the dwp staff member dismissed all her medical reports and said that she was not interested in her health. her job was to get my sick friend a job and regardless of their condition if she didn't undertake some actions within a 6 week period then they would be sanctioned. this would result in a very sick person receiving nothing to live on.
The attitude and manner of the female dwp staff member was disgusting and totally lacked any compassion. people like the horrid Lacey who thinks this type of treatment of the poor and weak is acceptable, I hope similar happens to them.
i had the miss fortune to attend the local job centre recently with a friend who suffers terrible ill health. at the interview the dwp staff member dismissed all her medical reports and said that she was not interested in her health. her job was to get my sick friend a job and regardless of their condition if she didn't undertake some actions within a 6 week period then they would be sanctioned. this would result in a very sick person receiving nothing to live on. The attitude and manner of the female dwp staff member was disgusting and totally lacked any compassion. people like the horrid Lacey who thinks this type of treatment of the poor and weak is acceptable, I hope similar happens to them. punkrocker
  • Score: 8

2:57pm Thu 27 Feb 14

theWorkerScum says...

Lol @ Sineater or should I say sin speaker. I won't justify your drivel with a response,, you obviously don't understand.
Lol @ Sineater or should I say sin speaker. I won't justify your drivel with a response,, you obviously don't understand. theWorkerScum
  • Score: -1

4:11pm Thu 27 Feb 14

hullgodfreyshire says...

anybody who thinks ATOS are doing a good job, must be totaly brainwashed by the tory idiot followers union. THEY ARE THE SCUM OF THE EARTH, their idea of a professional health worker to interview claimants is to send them to see a dental assistant to to decide if they are dying, if not they are declared fit for work.that scumbag ian duncan smitt, is the ring leader of the toffee nosed morons.
as to theworkerscum, ask your self do you honestly believe that all 2.5 million people that are unemployed, and that includes the EXTRA 1 million people that have been put on the dole since the nasty party the tories have come to be in power, are all scrounger, if you do then you are seriously deluded,and need treatment.maybe you should apply to ATOS to see if are fit to comment on this page.
anybody who thinks ATOS are doing a good job, must be totaly brainwashed by the tory idiot followers union. THEY ARE THE SCUM OF THE EARTH, their idea of a professional health worker to interview claimants is to send them to see a dental assistant to to decide if they are dying, if not they are declared fit for work.that scumbag ian duncan smitt, is the ring leader of the toffee nosed morons. as to theworkerscum, ask your self do you honestly believe that all 2.5 million people that are unemployed, and that includes the EXTRA 1 million people that have been put on the dole since the nasty party the tories have come to be in power, are all scrounger, if you do then you are seriously deluded,and need treatment.maybe you should apply to ATOS to see if are fit to comment on this page. hullgodfreyshire
  • Score: 4

4:30pm Thu 27 Feb 14

Jonn says...

theWorkerScum wrote:
Yes john the gullible will of course blame atos, who provide professional health workers and follow government standards. Once enough moaning is done the government will give the contract to someone else to gain popularity who will follow the government standards and hopefully you are clever enough to see where this is going. You even quote company names and think the government is just the nice guy stuck in the middle, connect the dots for goodness sake. So you think public sector runs services better than private sector, lol. Do you have a job?
I recommend you clue yourself up on the facts of both ATOS and the Government before commenting. They were both as bad as each other.
ATOS used software totally unsuitable for properly assessing physical medical conditions in regards to how capable somebody is of working and totally disregarded mental health conditions. This was quite acceptable to Government as the only result they wanted was to reduce the claimant count by any means. They also failed to fulfil their contract on dozens of points but were still happy to pocket £110 million a year. To claim a private companys results were sh*te because they were only following orders is gullible. If you had the intelligence, you'd see what really happens. They are all in it together.
[quote][p][bold]theWorkerScum[/bold] wrote: Yes john the gullible will of course blame atos, who provide professional health workers and follow government standards. Once enough moaning is done the government will give the contract to someone else to gain popularity who will follow the government standards and hopefully you are clever enough to see where this is going. You even quote company names and think the government is just the nice guy stuck in the middle, connect the dots for goodness sake. So you think public sector runs services better than private sector, lol. Do you have a job?[/p][/quote]I recommend you clue yourself up on the facts of both ATOS and the Government before commenting. They were both as bad as each other. ATOS used software totally unsuitable for properly assessing physical medical conditions in regards to how capable somebody is of working and totally disregarded mental health conditions. This was quite acceptable to Government as the only result they wanted was to reduce the claimant count by any means. They also failed to fulfil their contract on dozens of points but were still happy to pocket £110 million a year. To claim a private companys results were sh*te because they were only following orders is gullible. If you had the intelligence, you'd see what really happens. They are all in it together. Jonn
  • Score: 2

5:25pm Thu 27 Feb 14

punkrocker says...

Punish ill People is what pip stands for workerSCUM.
Punish ill People is what pip stands for workerSCUM. punkrocker
  • Score: 1

5:50pm Thu 27 Feb 14

hippyjohn says...

Hands up all those who think ATOS are sh#t, Suprise suprise you are all deemed fit for work
Hands up all those who think ATOS are sh#t, Suprise suprise you are all deemed fit for work hippyjohn
  • Score: 2

6:05pm Thu 27 Feb 14

theWorkerScum says...

Punkrocker what does that have to do with me. Pip was created by the government as I implied, what's your problem, Ohh I forgot you think atos is in charge. What about capita do they not get any of your backlash or even dwp itself so they can do another rebrand.

Yes john, that's right I don't know the facts because I don't read the same media nonsense as you. Atos don't even what the contract because of the amount of morons threatening to kill staff. Most atos staff don't agree with the government rules which is why even going to the length of quiting their jobs. You so plugged into the system you think you just brand getting angry at a brand which is not responsible for the assessment guidelines. Please take a moment to do some research at least before you get angry with me for informing u of facts.
Punkrocker what does that have to do with me. Pip was created by the government as I implied, what's your problem, Ohh I forgot you think atos is in charge. What about capita do they not get any of your backlash or even dwp itself so they can do another rebrand. Yes john, that's right I don't know the facts because I don't read the same media nonsense as you. Atos don't even what the contract because of the amount of morons threatening to kill staff. Most atos staff don't agree with the government rules which is why even going to the length of quiting their jobs. You so plugged into the system you think you just brand getting angry at a brand which is not responsible for the assessment guidelines. Please take a moment to do some research at least before you get angry with me for informing u of facts. theWorkerScum
  • Score: -2

6:15pm Thu 27 Feb 14

theWorkerScum says...

hullgodfreyshire when did I say anything about people being scroungers. Are u reading things correctly? Maybe it will help if I clarify I don't agree with the assessment but I am intelligent enough to know who is behind it. The government has done a good job on u.
hullgodfreyshire when did I say anything about people being scroungers. Are u reading things correctly? Maybe it will help if I clarify I don't agree with the assessment but I am intelligent enough to know who is behind it. The government has done a good job on u. theWorkerScum
  • Score: 1

8:09pm Thu 27 Feb 14

Jonn says...

theWorkerScum wrote:
Punkrocker what does that have to do with me. Pip was created by the government as I implied, what's your problem, Ohh I forgot you think atos is in charge. What about capita do they not get any of your backlash or even dwp itself so they can do another rebrand.

Yes john, that's right I don't know the facts because I don't read the same media nonsense as you. Atos don't even what the contract because of the amount of morons threatening to kill staff. Most atos staff don't agree with the government rules which is why even going to the length of quiting their jobs. You so plugged into the system you think you just brand getting angry at a brand which is not responsible for the assessment guidelines. Please take a moment to do some research at least before you get angry with me for informing u of facts.
I haven't obtained my facts from reading media nonsense so please don't presume. I have obtained some facts from the same sources as the media but read them before the left/right wing spin is applied. I have also obtained some facts from freely available literature such as FOI requests that the Government have tried to hide or just deny.
As far as death threats against ATOS staff being the reason they are pulling out of a £110 million a year contract, don't make me laugh. 10,600 people died within 6 weeks of being declared 'fit for work' by ATOS up until 2012. Where were the staffs concerns then? Where was the publics concern then? Why have the DWP refused to release 2013 figures for those that have died after being declared 'fit for work'?
If ATOS didn't like the Governments guidelines, why did they agree to implement them?
There are thousands of cases of ATOS being sh*te which has nothing to do with Government guidlines. ATOS still sending bullying letters to a woman in a coma even though they had been informed she was in a coma.
I am not getting angry with you at all. Everyones entitled to an opinion but I'm just amazed at your ignorance of the truth.
[quote][p][bold]theWorkerScum[/bold] wrote: Punkrocker what does that have to do with me. Pip was created by the government as I implied, what's your problem, Ohh I forgot you think atos is in charge. What about capita do they not get any of your backlash or even dwp itself so they can do another rebrand. Yes john, that's right I don't know the facts because I don't read the same media nonsense as you. Atos don't even what the contract because of the amount of morons threatening to kill staff. Most atos staff don't agree with the government rules which is why even going to the length of quiting their jobs. You so plugged into the system you think you just brand getting angry at a brand which is not responsible for the assessment guidelines. Please take a moment to do some research at least before you get angry with me for informing u of facts.[/p][/quote]I haven't obtained my facts from reading media nonsense so please don't presume. I have obtained some facts from the same sources as the media but read them before the left/right wing spin is applied. I have also obtained some facts from freely available literature such as FOI requests that the Government have tried to hide or just deny. As far as death threats against ATOS staff being the reason they are pulling out of a £110 million a year contract, don't make me laugh. 10,600 people died within 6 weeks of being declared 'fit for work' by ATOS up until 2012. Where were the staffs concerns then? Where was the publics concern then? Why have the DWP refused to release 2013 figures for those that have died after being declared 'fit for work'? If ATOS didn't like the Governments guidelines, why did they agree to implement them? There are thousands of cases of ATOS being sh*te which has nothing to do with Government guidlines. ATOS still sending bullying letters to a woman in a coma even though they had been informed she was in a coma. I am not getting angry with you at all. Everyones entitled to an opinion but I'm just amazed at your ignorance of the truth. Jonn
  • Score: 4

6:50am Fri 28 Feb 14

George19 says...

And Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which shadows the NAO, said she was “shocked” by the findings. She added: “The current backlog and delays in processing claims are simply unacceptable and will no doubt cause real distress for vulnerable claimants.”
And yet they stand back and still do nothing about it, lip service to justify their Quango jobs.
And Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which shadows the NAO, said she was “shocked” by the findings. She added: “The current backlog and delays in processing claims are simply unacceptable and will no doubt cause real distress for vulnerable claimants.” And yet they stand back and still do nothing about it, lip service to justify their Quango jobs. George19
  • Score: 1

4:36pm Sat 1 Mar 14

sophieb95 says...

I think this is ridiculous, my nana who is disabled and had many operations on her back and has arthritis, she is always in pain and finds it hard to do day to day things has now been told that her money is stopping and told from the job centre that she has to find work or do voluntary to gain experience. I think this is a joke! Trying to make someone with a disability who is constantly in pain to go out to work where they will suffer more.
I think this is ridiculous, my nana who is disabled and had many operations on her back and has arthritis, she is always in pain and finds it hard to do day to day things has now been told that her money is stopping and told from the job centre that she has to find work or do voluntary to gain experience. I think this is a joke! Trying to make someone with a disability who is constantly in pain to go out to work where they will suffer more. sophieb95
  • Score: 2

5:58am Tue 11 Mar 14

Jonty27 says...

It seems strange our disabled have to wait up to six months for a claim to be processed yet , billions of ponds of OUR money is given away within HOURS in aid to other countries.
It seems strange our disabled have to wait up to six months for a claim to be processed yet , billions of ponds of OUR money is given away within HOURS in aid to other countries. Jonty27
  • Score: 0

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