Watchdog says sick and disabled are getting hurt from mismanagement of benefits
- 27 Feb
Atos and Capita have been found to be failing to hit assessment targets leading to poor performance of Iain Duncan Smith's flagship programme.
A spending watchdog has found that sick and disabled people trying to claim a new benefit, which has been introduced by Iain Duncan Smith are facing "distress and financial difficulties" due to mismanagement.
The National Audit Office have discovered that the new personal independence payment, which is meant to replace the disability living allowance, will cost almost three and a half times more to administer and take double the amount of time to process, reports the Guardian.
Mike Penning, the disability minister, has said the contract with the benefits testing firm Atos is a "mess". Atos have said they want to pull out of the contract early as their staff are receiving death threats.
The report by the NAO shows that within the first six months of PIPs in some areas of north England a backlog of 92,000 cases had built up, which is three times the number expected.
Claimants average wait was 107 days, with terminally ill patients 28 days, for decisions on their cases. Delays in assessments have been cut by £140m expected savings over the course of this parliament.
The reports says that each new PIP claim costs an average of £182 to administer, however under the disability living allowance it was only £49.
Head of the NAO Amyas Morse says: "Claimants face long and uncertain delays and the department has had to delay the wider roll-out of the programme. Because it may take some time to resolve the delays, the department has increased the risk that the programme will not deliver value for money in the longer term."
A DWP spokesman said that the NAO acknowledges this reform started on time and on budget, and that the department has reduced risk by rolling it out in phases. "This has enabled us to adjust our plans as we learn from the initial phases, well before the roll-out to the majority of existing Disability Living Allowance claimants next year," he said.
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