Imagine if you will, taking an old radio in to an engineer. It’s still going but it’s a bit crackly and the volume’s unreliable. The engineer charges £30 for examining the radio and tells you that unfortunately it’s unrepairable but you should come back in six months so they can examine it again. You return in six months, they charge you another £30 and inform you the radio is unrepairable but come back in six months so they can examine it again.
You and I might think the engineer is a fraudster but it seems our government, notably Chris Grayling MP, believes the above to be perfectly acceptable practice when the ‘engineer’ is Atos Healthcare and the taxpayer is footing the bill.
I wrote to my MP, Graham Brady, stating that I believe Atos Healthcare is defrauding the taxpayer by performing multiple medical assessments on those with degenerative and terminal illnesses and asking him to put in a complaint to HM Treasury on my behalf. To Mr. Brady’s credit his Secretary took up the request for me and I have received a reply via Mr Brady’s office from Chris Grayling MP, Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions. In reply to my complaint specifically regarding those with degenerative and terminal illnesses, people whose conditions will never improve only deteriorate Mr Grayling has written …
“There will always be some people for whom work is not possible, because of the severe level of disability they have. Following their WCA, (Work Capability Assessment) eligible recipients will be placed in either the ESA Work Related Activity Group or the ESA Support Group. Unlike the existing Incapacity Benefit exempt group, there is no set list of conditions that make up the Support Group. Therefore, the WCA also provides a way of identifying people with health conditions which make it unreasonable to expect them to work.
People are entitled to ESA for as long as they satisfy the entitlement conditions.
The functional effects of most conditions vary tremendously and depend upon a number of factors. These may include the severity and stage of the disease, and the person’s response to treatment. To ensure that people who receive benefit are doing so correctly, people will be considered for re-assessment from time to time to make sure that they still meet the entitlement conditions. This is a normal part of receiving ESA.
Undergoing the re-assessments is part of the claimant’s responsibilities which balances the right to benefit. In addition, people can be re-assessed if new information or evidence comes to light which suggests their condition may have improved and they may no longer be entitled. This is a vital safeguard against fraud and incorrectness.”
In response I shall be sending via Mr Brady’s office …
“Thank you for your reply via Graham Brady MP but you don’t seem to address the complaint I continue to make. I fully understand how ESA assessments are supposed to work, I am stating that the process is allowing Atos Healthcare to defraud the taxpayer by performing multiple assessments on those for whom there can have been no possible improvement in their medical condition. The permanently disabled and dying are being put in fear that they will lose their benefits whilst Atos Healthcare gets a nice cheque.