Islington Labour Leader, Cllr Richard Watts, publicly moved a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Atos at a Council Executive meeting last night (Thursday 17 October) and slammed their ‘demeaning and demoralising’ tests to determine if disabled people are fit to work.
An Islington Council scrutiny investigation into Atos, the Government contractor running Work Capability Assessments for local residents on disability benefits, raised serious concerns about their performance.
Across London 45 per cent of all appeals against Atos ESA ‘fit for work’ decisions are successful. Within Islington, almost 90 per cent of the 108 ESA appeals made by local residents and assisted by the council were successful.
Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of the Council said: “Atos’ performance in Islington has been shocking. Our disabled residents deserve better so I’m calling on the Government to take urgent action.”
“We’re hearing that assessors are ignoring evidence of sickness or disability and don’t always have the medical knowledge to judge whether someone is fit for work. They seem to be making life changing decisions by ticking boxes on a computer screen”.
In a letter to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith, Cllr Watts writes “The wrong decisions Atos are making have important, even life-changing consequences for some of our most vulnerable residents while the appeals process puts many who are seriously ill under unnecessary stress and uncertainty.”
This action by Islington’s Labour Council is believed to be the first time a council has made a direct challenge to Government over Atos’ poor performance in determining eligibility for benefits.
Read more about the action in the Islington Tribune
(Picture shows Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council and Cllr Janet Burgess, Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing signing the letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)