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Slough MP Comments on Benefit Figures

Reacting to new figures published by the Department for Work and Pension (DWP) about Personal Independence Payments, a benefit for disabled people, Fiona Mactaggart MP for Slough said


My concern, expressed a few months ago at the Public Accounts Committee, that misleading information used by the IT company Atos to win a disability assessment contract would lead to longer queues for disabled benefits claimants, has been confirmed by new official figures issued by the DWP."


Atos Healthcare made a series of firm pledges to win a £184 million contract to assess people for the Government's new Personal Independence Payments (PIP) across London and the South of England.


Atos had promised to provide a network of 740 assessment sites across London and the South of England, but after the contract was signed it only managed to secure 96 assessment centres.


This meant thousands of disabled people faced longer delays in being assessed, and longer and more complicated journeys to reach their assessments, often by inaccessible public transport.


Figures published last week by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) suggest that the lack of assessment centres in some parts of the country have increased delays and backlogs.


Across Britain, since PIP was launched in April 2013, there have been 490,400 new claims - those not from people who already claim disability living allowance - registered with DWP.


Of these, 200,000 - or 41 per cent - have been dealt with through a decision to award PIP, not award PIP, or through the claim being withdrawn.


But in Slough, only 29 per cent of registered claims have been decided.


Slough's MP Fiona Mactaggart said, "I called last year for Atos to be stripped of the right to bid for government contracts because of its broken PIP pledges. These official figures show I was right to do so, disabled constituents face confusion, anxiety and stress because most have to travel all the way to Reading for assessment, they wait far longer for an assessment than they should. I have constituents who are disabled and applied for this help nine months ago and yet have still not even been given an appointment to see a medical assessor.  The Government should sack ATOS and urgently ensure that people can be assessed close to home in Slough.”