By Jason Beattie 17th Aug 2012 06:30
THE National Audit Office say the Government’s contract with Atos was poorly drawn up and has left the taxpayer out of pocket.
SPENDING watchdogs have slammed ministers for failing to recoup millions of pounds from a controverisal company who test the sick and disabled for benefits.
The National Audit Office say the Government’s contract with Atos was poorly drawn up and has left the taxpayer out of pocket.
Atos have an exclusive deal with the Department for Work and Pensions to assess claimants to see if they are fit for work.
But almost 40 per cent of the firm’s decisions are overturned on appeal – costing £60million a year.
The NAO say the department have failed to recoup the money from Atos by imposing financial penalties. And they say ministers should be seeking “adequate financial redress for contractor underperformance”.
Atos are paid £112million a year to carry out the assessments but have repeatedly failed to meet their targets.
In a letter to Labour MP Tom Greatrex, NAO chief Amyas Morse said the “current contractual targets” were not “significantly challenging”.
He added: “In our view, this allows the contractor to deliver a significant number of assessments before penalties become due.”
It was revealed this month that, in the past three years, Atos had deemed 32 people fit to work – shortly before they died.
Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Greatrex said: “This is a damning assessment of the failure of the Government to get value for money for the taxpayer.
“People who are genuinely sick and disabled need to be helped, not hounded. The Government must reflect on this scathing report and bring forward serious proposals for reform.”