One of a collection of long overdue freedom of information requests received by Benefits and Work demonstrates that another of Iain Duncan Smith’s deadlines is unravelling before our eyes. The memo reveals that the new contractor delivering work capability assessments (WCAs) should already be in place and beginning to take over from Atos.
A memo headed ‘Atos Healthcare will no longer deliver Work Capability Assessments by 2015’ was sent out to DWP managers on 27 March 2014
The document explains that the Atos is to exit early from its contract to deliver WCAs, which was due to end in August 2015. The memo goes on to say that:
“The most effective way to stabilise and then increase delivery of Work Capability Assessments is to bring in one national provider to deliver the services. The plan is for the new contract to be awarded later this year. There will be a gradual transition from Atos to the new provider with a view to the new provider taking responsibility for delivery of Work Capability Assessments by 2015.”
However, that plan began to unravel as early as July of this year when the DWP realised that Atos owns all the hardware required to run the LiMA software used in WCAs.
As the Central Government Computing website revealed, the DWP were having to pay Atos an extra £10 million to carrying on running all the hardware for assessments for an additional year whilst a new IT provider is sought. The new contract runs into 2016 with options for it to continue right into 2020.
Meanwhile, however, there is still no sign of a company stepping in to carry out the actual face-to-face assessment. The possibility of Atos being fully replaced by the end of the year now seems very slim as another of IDS’ projects misses its deadline.