Open Letter to Iain Duncan Smith – Maximus Contract

DWP Wheelchair Cliff


Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Dear Secretary of State,

We are deeply concerned by your decision to award the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) contract to private contractor Maximus, rather than bring the work back in-house to be carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions.

In March, Atos negotiated an early exit from the now infamous £500 million Work Capability Assessment contract, prompting a government exercise to find a new provider.

However, we feel that simply changing the company providing the test will not address concerns voiced by the medical profession, disability groups, numerous MPs and equality campaigners. Firstly, any new provider will be required to test people according to the same criteria which are designed to reduce the number of claimants rather than fairly and accurately meet people’s needs, and secondly, private contractors have to make money out of the contract which at a time of cuts means squeezing the quality of work.

Awarding this contract to a private company which has had considerable concerns raised over its record in US states is a missed opportunity for which the poorest and most disadvantaged in society will again pay a high price. The lessons were there to be learnt but sadly the government appears to have chosen to repeat its mistakes.

The fiasco of recent years demanded the government take responsibility and control of the process. The only way it can do this is by bringing the work and Atos staff, who formerly worked for DWP, back in-house so that the department has direct control over processes and staffing. It would also go a long way to repairing the reputation of DWP medical assessment work.

Mark Serwotka (PCS General Secretary), John McDonnell (Lab, Hayes and Harlington), Grahame Morris (Lab, Easington), Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion), Paul Flynn (Lab, Newport West) , Ian Lavery (Lab, Wansbeck), Elfyn Llwyd MP, Leader of Plaid Cymru, and disability rights advocacy groups Disabled People Against the Cuts, Inclusion London, Black Triangle and medical advisor to Black Triangle and campaigner, Dr. Stephen Carty.

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