The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will award a ‘fit for work’ contract worth £500 to the private American firm Maximus, according to an anonymous source.
DWP has been searching for a replacement for Atos to carry out Work Capability Assessments (WCA) on sick and disabled people for the out-of-work benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Atos withdrew amid accusations they were making too many mistakes in assessing whether sick and disabled people were able to work. However, Atos claim they withdrew from the contract early because the system wasn’t working.
The source, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters that Maximus will be picked as the prefered bidder over UK-based Interserve Plc. The source added that the contract is worth £500 million.
A spokesperson for the DWP refused to verify as to whether Maximus has been chosen to carry out the WCA on behalf of the DWP, but added that the preferred bidder would be announced in due course. Both Maximus and Interserve refused to comment.
Reuters reports that Maximus is an operator of government health and human services programmes in the United States.
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Disabled People, said:
“Ministers’ chaotic handling of Atos’s contract to run Work Capability Assessments has left more than 600,000 people stuck in a huge backlog while many thousands more are being let down by a failing service which is costing taxpayers millions of pounds.
“Today’s announcement of a replacement for Atos won’t be enough to deal with the underlying problems with Work Capability Assessments unless the Tory-led government changes the way the assessments are run.
“Labour will reform Work Capability Assessments to help more disabled people into work. We will give disabled people a central role in monitoring the tests and we will tackle the huge backlog of assessments.”