[typography font=”Cardo” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#000000″][dropcap]F[/dropcap][/typography]igures released have shown that there are around 700,000 people waiting on assessments for Employment and Support Allowance, which is also known as ESA. It is estimated that overall, there are hundreds of thousands of people that have suffered due to a backlog of benefits, according to the government.
Mike Penning, the Minister for Disabled People, is blaming the delays on the contractor used for carrying out the assessments, Atos. The fitness to work tests are already controversial enough as it with with many claiming they are unsuitable to determine if a person is able to work.
Atos has described its staff as being “vilified” and on the receiving end of abuse after doing what the ministers have asked of them.
When Prime Minister David Cameron was asked in parliament about the implications of a reform in benefits, he said that the changes that are carried out would be done in a way that works well, rather than to an artificial deadline. This was in response to a question put forward by Katy Clark, who is a Labour MP, ad was enquiring about why most of the people who had applied for PIP, or personal independence payment, still hadn’t received a decision.[box]PIP replaced disability living allowance as of April 2013.[/box]
Atos has agreed to terminate its contract early and told the DWP that they were unable to deliver the quality at the capacity that is required. However, a spokesperson for the DWP has clarified that Atos is currently processing more cases than are coming in and they are reducing the backlog.
Out of the backlog, there are 394,000 new claimants for ESA and 234,000 people who are waiting to see if they are still entitled to ESA. There are also an additional 84,000 people who are waiting to move over to claim ESA from incapacity benefit, which has been terminated since March of this year.
Mr Penning has said that [quote]The government had failed to meet its own deadline of moving these people onto the new benefit by April[/quote]
The DWP stated [quote]Incapacity Benefit reassessment has resulted in over 700,000 people looking for, or making steps to return to work – it is crucial that we continue this important process to ensure that people are not written off and we get a fair deal for the taxpayer.[/quote]
If you have found yourself to be affected by the backlog of ESA claimants, you can ring the Employment and Support Allowance Phone Number.