Roger has written to Iain Duncan Smith, the head of the Department for Work and Pensions, and Andy Parker, the Chief Executive of Capita, to protest about the effects of the long delays in processing claims for Personal Independence Payments. PIP is paid to people who are seriously ill or disabled in order to help them with the extra costs of their condition.
Unfortunately, despite the disastrous failure of Atos’ contract to handle ESA assessments, the Government decided to allow Atos and Capita to take on the contracts for carrying out PIP assessments. The consequence of this is that PIP costs almost three and a half times more to administer than the benefit it replaced, and takes twice as much time to process. Roger commented: “I do not see how this serves either disabled citizens or the British taxpayer. The only people currently benefiting are the shareholders of Atos and Capita, who are making a profit at the expense of the wellbeing of seriously ill citizens.”
In the letters, Roger wrote: “The effects of these delays on disabled citizens cannot be overstated. At a time when they are already struggling to cope with severe health conditions, they are also forced to worry about paying the bills, paying the rent for their homes and putting food on the table, not to mention coping with the extra costs that come with disability. Many of the people who wrote to me about this emphasised that before they became disabled they had worked all their lives, paid taxes and never claimed benefits. They had paid into the system on the assumption that if they ever needed support the safety net would be there for them. They have now discovered that this is not the case.”
Roger was contacted by a man whose wife suffered a stroke, and who was still waiting for Capita to bother to turn up to assess her. He wrote: “It’s seven months since we have any money coming in bar my wife’s state pension. My savings are almost gone. The stress I am under is unbelievable. I just don’t know where to turn. My wife is getting depressed, she just sits and cries on the days Capita don’t turn up. She blames herself for having a stroke."
Said Roger: “I am appalled that this Government has once again permitted companies which are obviously inept and unscrupulous to be in charge of administering a benefit which is so vital to the wellbeing of this country’s most vulnerable citizens. I cannot understand how Atos in particular was permitted to be involved after the utter disaster of their handling of ESA claims. What on earth is the benefit to DWP or to the public purse of outsourcing services to private companies which perform them so poorly that they have to be redone, again at taxpayer expense? What is the benefit to society of pushing hard-working citizens into penury and misery because they have the misfortune to become ill?”