04 October 2010

Men shaking handsAtos may soon not only be carrying out your benefits medical, but also the interviews and work-related activities you are forced to attend afterwards.  The multinational company has joined forces with a major charity to bid for DWP employment services contracts.

Atos Origin, part of the Atos group which carries out incapacity and disability medicals for the DWP, has gone into partnership with leading voluntary sector agency Shaw Trust with the aim of winning contracts to move disabled people back into work.

The shock news will cause considerable dismay to people who believe that a small number of private sector companies already have too large a stake in the UK’s welfare benefits system.

This latest move raises the possibility that the same company which carries out medicals to decide which claimants go onto JSA and which go into the work-related activity group of ESA will soon also be responsible for  providing compulsory interviews and training for those same claimants.

Claimants who believe they should have been placed in the support group for ESA,  for example, but get placed in the work-related activity group instead may be particularly outraged if the same company that made a profit from producing an unfavourable medical report makes a further profit from attempting to move them into work.

Some claimants are also likely to be very unhappy that Shaw Trust, the leading voluntary sector back-to-work agency, has decided to add its name, and the additional credibility that brings, to a company for whom they feel particular animosity.

The new partnership is now advertising for other private and voluntary sector organisations to join them in bidding for DWP employment related support services contracts.


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