PIP assessors for Atos have been paid an extra £50 for each additional assessment above the standard four per day, or three if they were home visits, the Mirror has discovered. This appears to be in addition to an additional bonus of £75 for every completed assessment. The revelation has raised fears that as a result some assessments may have been rushed and of poor quality.
In a leaked letter dated 16 May 2017, Atos staff were told:
“Over the last few months we’ve been focusing on delivering an outstanding claimant experience by processing cases efficiently, and when we can, seeing more claimants during the day or at weekends. For many of you this has meant time away from your family and friends, which isn’t easy.
“With this in mind I wanted to tell you how we’ve done and share the great news that so far we’ve set out what we planned to do [sic]. We’ve seen an extra 3054 claimants in March, and a whopping 4454 claimants in April. This is all down to you. Thanks so much for your support during the last few months, you’ve really come through, proving what it means to be a team player.
“So that we don’t undo all of your good work, we’re extending incentives into May and June. If you’re interested in working overtime please get in touch with your Service Delivery Manager. Here’s a reminder of what’s on offer:
“If you’re a health professional
The additional £75 Fee per Case (FPC) will remain for every assessment completed. Plus you’ll receive an additional £50 for any assessment you do above four, within an Assessment Centre session, and three within a Home Consultation session.”
It appears from the letter that assessors received an additional £75 bonus for every assessment they completed, plus £50 on top of that for each additional assessment.
So an assessor doing one extra assessment a day five days a week in an assessment centre would appear to be able to earn £2,125 a week in bonuses alone. If this is correct it raises huge question marks over how generous the PIP assessment contract is, to allow Atos to pay such huge amounts on top of salaries.
Atos made no mention of these incentives when they gave evidence to the Work and Pensions committee inquiry into benefits assessments earlier this year. Committee chair Frank Field has written to Atos asking for more information saying:
“I am concerned financial incentives to complete assessments quickly may compromise the accuracy and quality of assessment reports - causing further distress to claimants.”
Field told the Mirror:
“It’s an incentive to ride roughshod over claimants and it can’t be right.
“Not only has the Government outsourced the assessment work, it has outsourced moral responsibility for the welfare of claimants. This is the outcome.”
Atos claim that the £50 bonus system was for a period of high assessment volume and is no longer in use.
You can read the full story in the Mirror.