07 September 2012
Vision charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has called for the government to shake up its work capability assessment (WCA) scheme amid protests against supplier Atos Healthcare’s involvement in the Paralympics.
Atos, worldwide IT partner for the London 2012 Games, has faced criticism over what protesters said were flawed medical assessments of UK residents claiming disability allowances, including those with visual impairments.
Steve Winyard, head of policy and campaigns at the RNIB, said: ‘Not only are a high proportion of Atos’ assessments producing decisions that are plainly wrong, but the process itself is creating fear, distress and anger. It is also important to remember that the government sets the criteria used for assessments and a fundamental review of the WCA is urgently needed. It is deeply flawed and fails to recognise the real barriers that disabled people face in obtaining and retaining paid work.’
Atos, which has been involved with the Paralympics since 2002, said its service followed guidelines set by the government.
A spokesperson said: ‘We do not make decisions on people’s benefit entitlement or on welfare policy but we will continue to make sure that service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be.’
Winyard added: ‘Atos is a large international business, and delivers many services for the government. It would have been contracted to the Paralympics several years before the difficulties with their provision of the work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance began.
‘We are disappointed with the experience blind and partially sighted people are having with the WCA.
‘Blind and partially sighted people, who face some of the biggest barriers to finding and retaining work, are routinely being found “fit for work” under the WCA and put onto Jobseekers Allowance.’