Thousands of Scots win ‘fit to work’ appeals

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Atos, the medical firm tasked with carrying out the Government’s benefits assessments, has again come under scrutiny after figures revealed that they had wrongly told thousands of sick and disabled Scots that they were fit to return to work.

The data, released via a parliamentary answer provided by the Minister for Work and Pensions, Shailesh Vara, shows that 9, 976 Scots won tribunals after being declared well enough to work.

The figures, gathered in a five-month period up to last September, showed a 43 per cent success rate from the 23, 291 appeals heard. The appeals process is estimated to have cost the UK £66 million last year alone.

Tom Greatrex, Rutherglen and Hamilton West Labour MP, said:  “I ask the same question regularly to see where the figures are for Scotland and they have ­continually fluctuated between around 39 and 42 per cent.”

He added: “The chaos of Atos’ assessment process leaves many people in a situation where they are struggling to pay their bills as a result of decisions which then turn out to be wrong. For more than four out of 10 of the assessments to be wrong and for that not to have improved over two years when the Government have been told about the problems again and again, just highlights there is something fundamentally flawed.”

Atos, who have a contract to carry out the tests until 2015, have been consistently criticised for the quality of their work and more than a quarter of a million people across Britain took their case to a tribunal in 2012-13.

A DWP spokesman said: “A ­decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough ­assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence.

“If a fit for work decision is ­overturned at appeal, it does not necessarily mean the original decision was inaccurate. Often claimants produce new evidence in their appeal which wasn’t ­available when the original decision was made.”

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