21 November 2012

Atos Sites Lack Disability Access

The BBC reports that  Atos, the firm carrying out fitness-for-work assessments for the government lacks disabled access at a quarter of its premises.

Employment minister Mark Hoban said 31 of 123 centres run by Atos lacked ground-floor access for wheelchairs.  Six centres in particular had "terrible" problems, causing almost three-quarters of case backlogs by failing to inform applicants and arrange enough home visits instead.
One MP called the situation "potty".

The Labour government replaced Incapacity Benefit with the Employment and Support Allowance four years ago.  The government is using French firm Atos to carry out the resulting face-to-face assessments of disability benefit claimants' eligibility - known as the "limited capability for work assessment".

Those judged able to do some work are given support to find jobs, while those judged able to work full time are moved on to Jobseekers Allowance.  The Commons Work and Pensions Committee heard evidence from Mr Hoban, who said: "There's a challenge in ensuring interview centres are accessible. What we don't want to do is to get people to turn up to centres that they can't effectively access."

Mr Hoban said that, in cases where wheelchair access was not possible, home visits were offered as an alternative.  He revealed that 31 of Atos's 123 sites did not have such access. Six centres - in Croydon, Ealing, Birmingham, Luton, Mansfield and Norwich - were responsible for 73% of the case backlog.

Mr Hoban said: "I think it's terrible. I think it's unacceptable that six centres account for 73%."
He added: "I think it's something that, over time, we should drive out."

Hold on the company that is running fitness for work assessments do not have disabled access in a quarter of its sites????  That is a bloody disgrace.Clearly Atos is not fit for purpose and should not be let withing a mile of  an ill or disabled person  Some of the decisions that it seem to have reached in the past underline this

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