Published on Wednesday 3 October 2012 11:44
SOCIAL Care bosses say they will not disclose how much Atos Healthcare is charging to carry out fitness to work assessments of incapacity benefit claimants – saying the figure is ‘commercially confidential’.
But the department’s chief executive officer Chris Corlett insisted that a good price had been secured which represented ‘excellent value for money’.
The Examiner revealed last week that the controversial Atos Healthcare consultancy has been brought in to carry out medical assessments here on a six-month trial.
More than half of the 32 incapacity benefit claimants who have had face-to-face personal capability assessments have had their payments stopped after they were found to be fit to work.
Campaigners held a week of action at the Paralympics against Games sponsor Atos Healthcare calling for it to be stripped of its £100m a year contract with the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions in protest at its ‘flawed’ approach which they claim has left thousands denied the right benefits.
Mr Corlett said the fee being charged by Atos to carry out the six month trial was ‘commercially confidential’. He said it would be inappropriate to give out the figure as the department was hoping to go out to tender when the trial ended.
But he insisted: ‘We were able to secure a very good price because of our relationship with the UK, We have been able to secure economies of scale that a small jurisdiction could never dream of achieving.
‘We are satisfied this is excellent value for money. We are able to secure a per unit cost they are getting for several million in the UK which we are getting for several dozen here. This is very beneficial for us and for the Manx taxpayer.’
There are currently about 2,000 long-term claimants in the island who have received contribution-based Incapacity Benefit and/or Income Support as an incapacitated person for more than six months.
Two doctors from Atos Healthcare arrived here in July to carry out face-to-face personal capability assessments of long-term claimants of incapacity benefit.
So far decisions on claimants’ capability for work have been made in 32 cases. Of those, 14 (43.8 per cent) were determined to be incapable of work and so can continue to receive benefit but 18 (56.2 per cent) were found capable of work and payment of their benefit has been stopped.