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Work Capability Assessment

Volume 538: debated on Wednesday 11 January 2012

6. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the work capability assessment in Scotland. (88257)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I are in regular contact with Ministers from the Department for Work and Pensions on a range of issues concerning welfare reform. We also recently met Professor Malcolm Harrington to discuss his second review of the work capability assessment.

I thank the Minister for that answer. I am sure he will be aware of a report published today by Citizens Advice entitled “Right First Time?”, which examines the high level of incorrect and inaccurate decisions made in the work capability assessment. Given the amount of money that Atos Healthcare receives from the public purse for undertaking these assessments, is it not now time for the Government to consider the report’s recommendation that financial penalties be imposed on Atos for a number of those incorrect assessments? [Interruption.]

This was one of the issues that the Secretary of State and I discussed with Professor Harrington, and as he prepares his further report, this is inevitably one of the issues he will address. [Interruption.]

Order. There are far too many noisy private conversations taking place in the Chamber. I would like to hear Dame Anne Begg.

Now that the move from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance is well under way, anecdotally, it would appear that Atos is finding it very difficult to carry out the necessary work capability assessments, so there could be extra delays. Will the Minister please engage with his fellow Ministers in the DWP to make sure that Atos can deliver on the contract?