Private companies undertaking PIP assessments received millions more than originally estimated
Companies undertaking controversial benefits assessments on behalf of the department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are to rake in millions of pounds extra public cash in a move an MP has said is rewarding failure.
Atos and Capita, the private companies which undertake personal independent (PIP) payments assessments, are set to be paid more than £700 million for their five-year contracts – a vast increase on the original estimate of £512m.
Analysis shows Atos and Capita have already been paid £578m in relation to PIP since it launched in 2013.
This includes £257m in 2016, according to the department's monthly spending data.
The contracts are due to run out in December.
Labour’s work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said: "It is beyond belief that this Tory government is rewarding failure.
"The PIP process is in disarray and these private companies are receiving huge payouts in a time of extreme austerity.
"It is clear that these costs are spiralling out of control.
"The government needs to get an urgent grip on these extortionate payments to private companies, especially at a time when they are getting more and more assessments overturned in the courts."
More than 160,000 people initially denied PIP have had this decision overturned since the benefit launched in 2013, according to DWP figures, while Atos and Capita have been dogged by accusations of insensitive assessments.
It is clear that these costs are spiralling out of control - Debbie Abrahams
A DWP spokeswoman said: "We are determined to provide claimants with the support that they need, and the effective assessment of people's abilities is key to this.
"We routinely review our work to make sure that we focus our resources on the most viable options and deliver the most effective support for the most vulnerable in society, while also ensuring the best value for the taxpayer."
A Capita spokeswoman said: "We were selected through a rigorous procurement process by the DWP to undertake personal independence payment assessments in line with DWP's clearly defined service specification.
"We provide these reports to the department who, alongside considering all other evidence submitted by a claimant, make a decision on whether to award a benefit, and if applicable the level of such an award.
"We are paid according to the number of quality controlled assessments we complete for DWP."