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Support for sick and disabled people "broken" says Citizens Advice

27 March 2014

Citizens Advice has said that the process of delivering support to sick and disabled people needs "root and branch reform" as Atos today confirms it is terminating its contract agreement to deliver Work Capability Assessments (WCA). The charity recommends that the provider replacing Atos should be fined when its assessments are shown to be wrong.

Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Chief Executive, said:

“The Work Capability Assessment is broken and innocent people are caught in the middle. Atos terminating its contract is not going to result in an overnight improvement in support for sick and disabled people. We need urgent root and branch reform of this whole system.

"In just one year, Citizens Advice Bureaux dealt with nearly half a million problems about Employment Support Allowance. Assessments are unreliable, often incorrect and can result in people with extremely tough medical conditions waiting months to get decent treatment and a fair outcome.

"This is a failing system, which ministers need to fix.   Government now has the chance to ensure that the new contracts mean every decision is based on medical evidence and that providers cannot get away with poor performance.  Whoever replaces Atos must be fined  if they fail to deliver accurate assessments.  These changes would help reduce the £60 million wasted on appeals and give a better deal for sick and disabled people and other tax payers."


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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 citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
  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.