'Private companies will be given around £630m of government money in the next two years to test people claiming disability benefits, despite ongoing concerns about the “flawed” medical assessment process.
Ministers at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have been accused of “rewarding failure” after the two companies that currently determine who gets Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) had their contracts extended.
Atos will be given up to £394.7m to carry out further PIP tests, while a subsidiary of Maximus will be given up to £236.4m to run more of the ESA tests until July 2021.
A DWP spokeswoman confirmed the sums, but told The Independent they represent a maximum budget and the amount spent on the tests over the next two years could be less.
Genevieve Edwards, of the MS Society, condemned the decision to extend the contracts.
“It’s nonsensical to reward this lack of understanding and failing system with extra millions of pounds, when what is really needed is an overhaul so people don’t have to fight to get the support they need," she said.
The assessment process for PIP – a benefit that replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 2013 – has been strongly criticised by charities who say it forces claimants to “fight” for the support they are entitled to.
It is available to anyone who needs help with daily activities or getting around because of a long-term illness or disability.'
Read more: DWP accused of 'rewarding failure' after companies given £630 million for more disability benefit tests
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