The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to investigate next month whether the taxpayer is getting value for money from the benefits assessments carried out by Atos, Capita and Maximus. There will be a televised session on 3 February and the committee would like to hear from claimants about their experiences.
The investigation into the cost personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA) medicals follows a damning report by the National Audit Office earlier this month which found that whilst the cost of assessments is rising, errors are huge and backlogs remain.
According to the PAC:
“Historically, assessment providers have struggled to meet expected performance levels. During 2013 and 2014 significant claim backlogs developed for both ESA and PIP, and there were concerns over the quality of assessments. The Department and providers agreed recovery plans and the Department transferred responsibility for ESA assessments from Atos Healthcare to a new provider, Maximus UK. Since March 2015, it has adopted a new contract structure and now pays more for assessments.
“This review considers whether the Department’s management of contracted-out health and disability assessments represents value for money. As the contracts covered are at different stages we examine how the Department has changed its approach to setting-up and managing contracts. The Department expects to significantly increase the number of assessments in the short-term and we consider how well the Department can address the associated risks.”
The PAC have specificaly said they would like to hear from claimants:
"If you, or someone you know or care for, has had an assessment for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or a Fit for Work assessment (FFW), the Committee would like to hear about your experience."
If you want to make a written submission yourself, you only have until 10am on Thursday 28 January to do so.