French company ATOS has announced that it is seeking an early exit from its contract with the British government to carry out fitness for work assessments on disabled people.
ATOS have been given a slating over their handling of the contract for making decisions to send people back to work when they are clearly not fit for work but they don’t deserve all the blame. In fact, most of the blame should fall at the previous Labour-controlled government who contracted ATOS in the first place and the current ConDem government who allowed the injustice to continue unabated.
The problem with what ATOS have been doing is that they were contracted to get x number of disabled people working and they’ve done what they were paid to do. Nobody knew how many disabled people were fit for work because if they knew who was and wasn’t fit for work they wouldn’t have needed to pay ATOS to find out so telling them in advance how many people they had to rule were fit for work is just nonsense. ATOS have been driven by targets on the number of people they declare fit for work even if that means making bad decisions because that’s what they’re being paid to do.
If ATOS were targeted on the quality of their decisions and not the number of people they declare fit for work then there wouldn’t have been such injustice in the decision-making process. ATOS took on a contract that was flawed and immoral but if they hadn’t taken on the contract, someone else would have done and with the same result. The contract is flawed and the only way to fix it is to base the targets solely on quality of decision making and not on the volume of people ruled fit to work.