Oct 272012
 

By John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Labour has called for an “immediate investigation” after evidence emerged that Atos Healthcare won two lucrative disability assessment contracts by using “misleading” information about its links with disabled people’s organisations (DPOs).

Anne McGuire, the shadow minister for disabled people, said the revelations – passed to her by Disability News Service (DNS) – raised “extremely serious questions” over the award of contracts worth £540 million to assess disabled people for eligibility for the new personal independence payment (PIP), the planned replacement for disability living allowance.

Atos had suggested in tender documents that it would be working closely with organisations “such as” Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), Disability Cornwall and ecdp (formerly Essex Coalition of Disabled People) if it won the contracts.

The pledge helped to ensure that Atos won two of three five-year government contracts.

Atos suggested in the tender documents that organisations such as GMCDP, Disability Cornwall and ecdp would help it design “disability awareness training” for its staff, and work with it on how to communicate with disabled people claiming PIP.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) made it clear in August that the successful PIP assessment bids had “demonstrated strong evidence… of close working with disabled people’s representative groups”, after it awarded two regional contracts to Atos and one to the outsourcing giant Capita.

But GMCDP, Disability Cornwall and ecdp were horrified this week when told by DNS that they had been mentioned in Atos’s tender documents.

McGuire said there was a “state of chaos” at the DWP and “clear evidence” that Atos won the contracts with a bid that was “misleading”.

She said: “There must be an immediate investigation because the integrity of the entire process is now in serious doubt.

“Ministers must now explain exactly how these claims got through unchecked, and they must urgently appoint external auditors to get to the bottom of what on earth is going on, before we have another West Coast Mainline fiasco on our hands.”

Disabled activists have spent much of the last two years protesting about the way Atos has carried out its most high-profile government contract, to assess disabled people for their “fitness for work”.

The grassroots campaigning organisation Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is already considering legal action against Atos for suggesting elsewhere in the tender documents that it had been engaged in regular discussions with the company, a reference Atos is now claiming was “a mistake”.

Many of DPAC’s direct action protests have focused on Atos, which it says has “devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled people”.

It even held The Atos Games, a week of protests during the Paralympic Games, to highlight disabled people’s anger at Atos’s sponsorship of London 2012.

Mike Adams, chief executive of ecdp, said he was “absolutely not” happy with his organisation being used by Atos in one of the tender documents, and said he would be writing to the company to complain.

He said: “How we got named in any tender documentation I have no idea. If anything in that tender document suggests we did [meet or plan to work with them], it is simply not true.

“There is a huge inference there that they have been discussing possibilities with us and that is not true. It is simply not true.”

Richard Currie, an executive member of GMCDP, said the idea of his organisation working with Atos was “absolutely preposterous”.

He said: “I would like to state in clear and unambiguous terms in no way would GMCDP be a party to anything to do with Atos.

“As an organisation we are not keen to work with organisations that actively make life more difficult for disabled people.

“We would never want anything to do with Atos. We do not feel they are a fit and proper company to do the assessments, as they proved with the employment and support allowance claimant debacle.”

Disability Cornwall also said that it had been completely unaware that it was mentioned in the Atos tender document until contacted by DNS. A Disability Cornwall spokesman said the organisation had never worked with Atos and never would.

Atos refused in August to name the DPOs and other disability organisations that helped it win the contracts, or even to say how many such organisations it had worked with, or why those organisations had refused permission to have their names released.

Linda Burnip, a member of DPAC’s steering group, said: “It is difficult to know whether we should fall about laughing because it is so ridiculous.

“Given The Atos Games and all the protests around the country, how can they have the nerve to say this?”

An Atos spokeswoman claimed that the statements it had made about DPOs being involved in its training and communication were “future intentions with regards the development of PIP”.

She added: “We have not stated anywhere in our bid document that organisations have been involved with Atos Healthcare in developing our PIP solution when they have not.”

DNS has not yet been able to confirm the accuracy of references to a string of other DPOs and disability charities in the documents.

The government has so far been unable to clarify whether it was aware that the DPOs mentioned by Atos had no intention of working with the company.

Instead, a DWP spokeswoman emailed a statement which said: “Atos have confirmed that they have not stated anywhere in their bid document that organisations have been involved with Atos Healthcare in developing their PIP solution when they have not.”

And she said that Atos had shown “a good understanding of the organisations who represented customers in the PIP space and offered robust, quality delivery proposals”.

Last week, DNS reported that Disability Rights UK (DR UK) was strongly disputing several references to help it had supposedly given to Capita, which won the third PIP assessment contract, in Capita’s tender document

Neither Capita nor DR UK has so far been able to clarify whether these references were included with DR UK’s permission.

John Pring

Editor: Disability News Service

Author: Longcare Survivors: The Biography of a Care Scandal

Tel: 020 8446 5900, 07776 206595

Email: john@disabilitynewsservice.com

www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Twitter: @johnpringdns

Skype: johnpring

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 Posted by at 14:12

  23 Responses to “Labour calls for urgent investigation over ‘misleading’ Atos bid information”

  1. First question is who cocked up with not getting a statement from GMCDP, Disability Cornwall and ecdp whither they would be involved with Atos or not,so whoever is responsible for not doing so should be sacked for negligence,well sorry this is David Cameron and his muppets that are running this country and massive mistakes are allowed to happen.Any other big companies executives would be booted out if they were conned into a contract for £540 million .Think i have made sense 🙂

  2. Using every media possible we must pull together and overrule these ATOS findings based on the facts (irregular tenders). As suspected they’re a government vehicle for cutting benefits of the most vulnerable any which way they can. Ironic that the acronym suggests the governments attitude as they couldn’t give ATOS!!!

  3. if what is in the tender documents of Atos about certain organisations giving them training and information like the (GMCDP) Disability Cornwall and ECDP about how to deal with disabled people’s conditions is false and they have lied just to get the contract and made false assessments on disabled people to please the DWP to persecute the wrong people, then all the assessments they have made are null and void and the contract should be withdrawn and the DLA should be returned to all the disabled people they have assessed without the right qualifications to assess the conditions of Disabled people if the labour inquiry find dirty dealing again this and any other government should be brought to justice for all their dirty double standard dealings they keep doing to fill their own coffers

  4. Read all about it … ATOS caught lying to make money shocker!

    Its not exactly a surprise, is it?

    This company sums up everything that is wrong in this country today.

  5. i find it hard to believe atos have been awarded further contracts to continue treating people this way to me it shows how callous this government is towards the weak the amount of public outcry and opposition just seems to mean nothing to them democracy as we know it has gone with this lot

  6. it’s time to run these scumbags out of town…if we lie it’s fraud if they do it they try to worm their way out…it’s not about people it’s about cash….but we know they lie and it’s a dirty secret every week that gets out…i mean how stupid do they think we are….POWER TO ALL OF US….WE CAN AND WILL WIN THIS FIGHT….regards..sandra.

  7. I would be asking if anyone could reconcile the staffing proposed by ATOS with the analysis of disabled people published by DWP.
    I can,for example,see no possibility of a Brain Damaged,of whatever degree finding a suitable examiner.Government tend to accept the lowest bids in these cases without sufficient investigaton. Disabled people have no Richard Branson who might act as Tribune for the Plebs. All this “reform” brought in by a “fearsome” triumvirate advised by an old gentleman who certainly has the usual patrician bearing,but is just a sadly misguided senior statesman.None of them have any idea of how disabled people live when they do not have the experience of poverty themselves.Yet they can say “Let’s double decimate this lot”,but before we do let’s quarter any special treatment within Universal Credit.We are all in it together,are we?

    • Here Here.what this bunch of Fascists are aggressively pursuing is “covert eugenics”. ATOS,with full government sanction HAVE driven many to suicide and the rest they,ll “starveto death” and all this costing the taxpayer far more than the benefits is done away with. It,s “The old boys network” at it as usual. The rich get richer and the poor?well this time they die.

  8. Joe makes a serious point.

    My partner and I plan to re-join the Labour Party to try and influence local government behaviour aswell as the wider horrendous political landscape. If the Shadow ministers don’t get their act together we dread to think what fragmented and poverty-stricken legacy will be our heritage.

    My partner had an awful experience with ATOS while on long term sick leave as a teacher with work-related stress and depression. His occupational health physician supported him back on a phased return to work but the Work Capability Assessment was a farce. A doctor terminated his interview before even discussing his real reasons for being off work. If this is the standard of ATOS employees PIP doesn’t stand a chance!

    • er.This criminal and cruel business was “liarbours” brainchild.please,dont be so naive.Lib/Lab/Con are all cut from the same cloth.they lie to get into office,a feeding frenzy ensues,the people,disenchanted and cheated once again,vote the last shower of liars back in. Democracy from the greek “Demokratia” means ” Will of the people”.that has never been or ever will be the case. Fact.

  9. we will get the usual politicians answers the running of atos is nothing to do with us we have been misinformed there have been errors of judgement statements have been mistakenly made we will look into this next pancake tuesday now go away so we can carry on telling lies how can you have a fair system when they don’t know the meaning of the word honesty

  10. I believe we all welcome an investigation into the shady deals of Atos. However to cry ” foul play ” and call for investigation is to little and far to late, this should have happened 12 months ago. This was all Labours fault for hiring this lot in the beginning.

  11. It’s amazing that the government will chase down people for allegedly lying and thereby defrauding their benefits, but reward liars like ATOS and G4S with extra contracts.

  12. Didn’t Maria Miller make claims that she had support from organisations that she had never met leading to a boycott of discussions with her and the abandonment of her visit to Scotland?

    http://www.thirdforcenews.org.uk/2012/02/scottish-disability-groups-boycott-meeting-with-uk%E2%80%88government/

  13. Whilst I welcome Labour’s urgent investigation over ‘misleading’ ATOS bid information, it was Labour who first employed ATOS, and I don’t recall that the Labour Party have made any commitment to repeal any of the Welfare Reform ACT 2012. Where are Labour’s policies to right all these Coalition wrongs? (I am a life-long Labour supporter).

    • It was indeed Labour who drew up all these plans… Frank Dobson and Frank Field were the two people pushing for these terrible actions. It was also their department of Work & Pensions who issued the contract with Atos and A4e in 2004.

      Labour are still in support of this way of dealing with disabled people. As a Lib Dem supporter, I prefer the option of GPs being in control of the way forward, with a body to monitor any GPs who are signing off a lot of people on the sick. If it can be proved the GP is just signing anyone off for no good reason, then the GP should be sacked….

      It would produce a honest and fair way forward, without giving the vulnerable more stress and anxiety.

  14. Most Civil Servants were not sufficiently trained to be dealing with claims for DLA. Essentially they were ticking boxes, based on answers given by claimants, and totting up the final score to determine whether they allowed or disallowed a claim. ATOS were not even given the same level of training, and certainly didn’t have the same level of experience, as their Civil Servant predecessors. Most of the Civil Servants previously dealing with DLA claims were experienced enough to interpret some of the answers given by claimants and adjust accordingly. Another example of this government cutting costs to the detriment of the people it purports to represent. Cut the Welfare Bill, an un-necessary drain on our economy, and enhance tax benefits to the rich bankers, etc., which further lines the pockets of the less needy!

  15. I wonder what the legality of this is. I don’t see how it can be legal to give misleading facts in a bid for a government contract – even in a fake democracy like ours, there must be guidelines.

  16. ATOS were responsible for the DWP stopped my partner and my son’s Allowances, my partner suffers with chronic depression and I fully believe that because his money was completely stopped he went on to have two silent heart attacks with the stress (we didn’t realise he had an heart attack) and ended up having to have a triple bypass, I can’ prove that, but I am convinced it played a major part. He did after 12 months have his money reinstated after a tribunal with some very understanding and sympathetic people presiding over the case. The same thing has just happened to my schizophrenic son, his money was stopped as ATOS said he was fit for work – after his tribunal his money has been reinstated, but has suffered great trauma during the waiting for the tribunal. Surely, if ATOS was so good, they would have recognised that my partner and my son were not fit for work and saved the government a lot of money having to go through the tribunals…they make the whole procedure a joke, obviously they are paid to get as many people as possible off benefits, but they are doing it with no compassion, no insight into the people they are dealing with, and causing people whose health was improving slightly to be pushed back to where they started from..ATOS should not have access to anything in my opinion !!!!

  17. Labour Controlled Birmingham City Council should tear up their contract with ATOS, if they,re sincere!…Big if !!

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