Diary: Revealed – the misery of the government’s welfare assessments
Leaked email depicts system under strain
• A tough job doing Iain Duncan Smith’s bidding as he strives to scalp the welfare bill. Calls for tough love in spades from the health professionals employed by private contractor Atos, the ones who say yea or nay to those who seek state assistance. So if the strain is showing, that’s no surprise. And strain there is, as we see from a leaked email from one of the medical experts employed by Atos to sort the strivers from the skivers. He was exhorted to put in that little bit more effort. His reply is now prized by all those under the cosh. “Our task is becoming ever more complex and ever more futile as we bend over backwards to satisfy the demands of a government that wants and needs cuts to the welfare budget,” he tells the company. He wants to do his job professionally. Atos, he claims, “wants us to do a job they can defend within an unrealistic time frame”. It’s thankless, he tells them. “I have to justify my very existence to people at Atos who neither know me, nor support me, nor care. Meanwhile my workload increases and my remuneration decreases as each year goes by.” It is, he says, “without doubt the most incompetent, inefficient and uncaring organisation with which I have ever been involved”. The company doesn’t comment on leaks, it says, having the “proper processes” to deal with such things. But it is clear the tide of misery affects everyone. Except, perhaps the secretary of state.
• Things seem little better at the Ministry of Justice, where it appears that officials seek to undermine Chris Grayling’s plan to privatise probation services. They can’t oppose him directly, but there must be something seditious about the decision to call the new payment mechanism Straw Man. And who’d have thought they would get away with calling the payment system FFS? It stands for Fees for Service in Whitehall-speak, apparently. Something much, much ruder to everybody in the outside world.
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