Citizens Advice Scotland are to seek clarity on the system for assessing whether disabled Scots are to be entitled to receive the new Personal Independence Payment (the benefit which will replace Disabled Living Allowance).
In the last few days it has emerged that ATOS, the company which is contracted to manage these assessments, has sub-contracted the task to a number of other agencies in Scotland, and this has led to concerns of a ‘postcode lottery’. CAS is now to write to ATOS, asking them to clarify details of how these tests will be managed, and how disabled Scots can be assured that they will be treated with consistency, fairness and dignity.
CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says,
“The assessments that have been carried out by ATOS for the Employment & Support Allowance have been deeply flawed and completely unfit for purpose, and have caused unnecessary misery and suffering for thousands of sick and disabled Scots.
“Now a similar assessment system is to be introduced for the new Personal Independence Payment, and we learn that ATOS has sub-contracted the work to seven different companies across Scotland.
“Concerns have been expressed about whether this will lead to a ‘postcode lottery’, and whether these assessments will repeat the flaws of those used for the ESA system. We believe these are legitimate questions. We are also concerned that the UK government has imposed a 20% cut to the budget, and we would like to know how ATOS and these other agencies are sure they can deliver that before a single claimant has even been assessed.
“There are a number of questions that need to be answered. So we will be writing to ATOS, seeking clarity on all of these issues - and also on whether the companies have been set targets.
“Thousands of people in Scotland who have a disability, illness or medical condition are to be assessed for PIP. The priority must be to make sure that they are treated fairly and with dignity. This was not the case with the ESA assessments, and we must make sure that those mistakes are not repeated.”
For more information please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 751655.