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Taxpayers should not pay the price for wrong Work Capability Assessments

22 July 2013

Citizens Advice has repeatedly raised concerns over the accuracy of ATOS’s Work Capability Assessments, and welcomes the news that the Department of Work and Pensions is to bring in extra organisations to carry them out.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice, said: “For too long, inaccurate medical assessments have denied thousands of sick and disabled people the support they need. ATOS’s mistakes have brought with them a huge human cost and cost to the taxpayer, so it’s good to see the Government finally taking action.

“In 2012/13, Citizens Advice Bureaux dealt with over 450,000 problems with Employment Support Allowance, 54% higher than the year before. In the first three months of this year, bureaux handled the highest number of problems with ESA ever. We have long been calling for ATOS to be fined for every wrong report that they submit and a regular, independent monitoring process to make sure that reports are accurate. This is a good opportunity for the Government to introduce these changes .

"ATOS's mistakes have so far cost the taxpayer over £64 million, and we will continue to monitor the new contractors to make sure that any wrong reports have financial costs for the companies not the public, and that sick and disabled people are getting the support they are entitled to.“

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit You can also get advice online at
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.