Tag Archives: capita

Tories force £100 million payout so outsourcing giant can chase over-75s for TV licence fee

The Conservative government’s relationship with private outsourcing firms is becoming more questionable by the day.

It has been revealed that the BBC is having to pay nearly £100 million to Capita so the firm can hire new staff to chase down senior citizens who fail to pay the TV licence fee.

People aged over 75 had been exempt from paying the fee because the government subsidised it – until George Osborne decided that he was going to axe the subsidy for no apparent reason other than cruelty.

The BBC was then forced between betraying all licence fee-payers by cutting its output significantly, or betraying over-75s by demanding that they pay the fee again.

It wasn’t any choice at all.

At least we’re all laying the blame where it’s due. As the Mirror article states:

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “The BBC has taken this decision but in reality the principal responsibility lies with the Government.

“Until a previous administration transferred these free licences to the Corporation under a tapering funding arrangement they had taken the form of a welfare benefit for a generation, and to have done that without any consultation left a really bad taste in the mouth.

“The Government cannot absolve itself of responsibility for the upset and distress being caused to many of our over-75s today, the poorest and most isolated above all – and the sadness is that these older people have already endured so much over the last few months.

“The Government needs to sit down with the BBC urgently to keep these TV licences for over-75s free.”

Ms Abrahams’ suggestion is right – but we know the Tories won’t act on it.

They’ll say the Covid crisis, Brexit, and the collapse of the UK’s economy (all their own fault) mean the nation cannot afford to take back the TV licence subsidy.

In reality, though, the real reason is that they’ve given all the money to privatised outsourcing firms like Capita.

Source: BBC to spend ‘£100m of taxpayer cash chasing over-75s not paying licence fee’ – Mirror Online

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What did we expect? Benefit assessors haven’t progressed towards improving safeguards for the vulnerable

This should make your blood boil.

Yes, there’s a crisis going on involving the coronavirus pandemic. That shouldn’t mean work on other life-threatening issues should stop.

And this is a life-threatening issue. Jodey Whiting is only the most well-known among many people who have died because the Department for Work and Pensions ignored its own rules for safeguarding vulnerable people.

And now we find that after an entire year, the companies involved in assessing people for disability benefits have made no progress in improving their safeguarding procedures. None at all.

Last year, freedom of information responses from more than a third of councils across England, Scotland and Wales showed that Atos, Capita and Maximus had made just four safeguarding referrals to those local authorities over the previous three years.

Now a fresh series of freedom of information requests has shown the three outsourcing giants appear to have taken barely any notice of those concerns.

Despite repeated warnings about the need to inform social services departments when there are clear and significant concerns about a claimant’s safety or welfare, they issued a total of just two referrals each during 2019 and the first month of 2020 across 89 councils.

It seems to This Writer that the lives of benefit claimants mean little to these money-making giants – or to their client, the Department for Work and Pensions.

And why should they? Every time someone dies, the DWP and the Tory government sweep the facts under the carpet.

Source: Benefit assessment companies ‘have made almost no progress’ on safeguarding – Disability News Service

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Firms that falsified thousands of benefit assessments set to get contracts to falsify thousands more

With apologies to the makers of The Simpsons.

Can anyone think of a single rational explanation for the plan to renew the contracts for Atos and Capita to carry out assessments of sickness and disability benefit claims?

Between them, over the last two years, these firms deliberately falsified around 7,300 claims in order to deny disabled people vital payments, forcing them towards poverty and the worsening of their conditions.

Who knows how many of these people have been induced to end their own lives as a result of this discrimination?

But instead of penalising the perpetrators by removing their contracts, the Tories are planning to pay them more than £1 billion to continue their persecution for three more years after their current contract runs out in 2021.

Who knows how many more claims they’ll be able to falsify, doctor or otherwise fake in that time? How many deserving people they’ll drive to poverty? How many will die?

Source: Discredited firms poised to rake in more than £1 billion from new PIP contracts – Disability News Service

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PIP assessor terrorises household. What kind of people is Capita hiring?

This should concern anybody who has a long-term illness or disability, who has a family member with one, or may develop one in the future.

Disability News Service has reported that an assessor working for Capita, the sub-contractor hired by the Depatment for Work and Pensions to assess claims for Personal Independence Payment, basically terrorised a household.

The man, believed to be in his 50s, was carrying out the assessment at the home of Cheryl Matthews, in Cardiff.

Ms Matthews works as a customer service agent and has several long-term health conditions, including one that could cause a fatal aneurysm if she becomes anxious.

She already receives the PIP standard rates for daily living and mobility, but had requested a new assessment after her health worsened in recent months.

But the assessor seems to have been determined to ignore her information about recent events, describing them as “irrelevant”.

His attitude angered Ms Matthews’ 22-year-old son, who asked for the assessment to be ended.

On his way out, it seems the assessor shoved her son so hard that he fell against a door – then challenged him to a fight before leaving the front door open and kicking the safety gate – that protects their three dogs – off its hinges, damaging the wall of the house.

He made off, saying that he would be back to fight Ms Matthews’s son.

She has struggled to sleep since the incident, according to the report. Considering her health condition, it seems that – rather than helping Ms Matthews meet the challenges of life with a disability – the assessment put her life in danger.

We are told Capita has suspended the assessor and offered Ms Matthews £600 in compensation. South Wales Police has launched an investigation into allegations of criminal damage.

To This Writer, that seems right and proper – but what about other people facing assessment?

I should say that Mrs Mike had her PIP assessment at home, and the Capita assessor in that instance behaved in an exemplary manner. She was polite and considerate, and paid attention to everything Mrs Mike had to say.

But the incident in Cardiff suggests that others may not be so lucky.

It certainly seems appropriate to raise questions about the standards under which private companies, working for the government, hire people to carry out this work.

While the policy of privatising this task may be attractive – it allows the Conservative government to distance itself from incidents like this – it does suggest that the government is also putting people at risk.

Is this incident not an argument for these assessments to be brought back in-house – under the auspices of the public service, with higher, public-service standards?

Source: PIP assessor told claimant to ignore her ‘irrelevant’ suicide attempt… then challenged her son to a fight – Disability News Service

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Why is the TV Licensing authority persecuting this pensioner?

This is another indictment against outsourcing giant Capita, which collects TV licence fees on behalf of the BBC.

Capita recently had to drop an appeal against a court ruling of maladministration after it advised the Department for Work and Pensions that a claimant did not deserve the Personal Independence Payment. She was dead within four months.

Now it seems the firm has perpetuated the 22-year-long harassment of Derek Cheesbrough, who gave up watching television in 1997 but has received an intimidating letter demanding that he pay his licence fee every month since.

A pensioner who gave up watching “rubbish” television 22 years ago has blasted TV Licensing for sending him 100 “intimidating” letters.

Fed-up Derek Cheesbrough wrote to officials in 1997 telling them he would no longer be watching the box as he thought he was “one of those clever people who could be selective and switch off”.

But he claims that he had a letter telling him he was breaking the law within a week.

Mr Cheesbrough, of Plymouth, Devon, has now received his 100th monthly warning – each one advising him of the consequences of illegal viewing.

Who is responsible for giving contracts to this firm and do they ever check its record first?

Source: Pensioner without TV gets 100th letter from TV Licensing

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Capita u-turns on court appeal over claimant death – opening itself to more claims?

Outsourcing giant Capita has dropped an appeal against a court decision ordering it to pay damages to the family of a benefit claimant who died  after it recommended she be refused the disability benefit PIP.

The company was ordered to pay £10,000 in damages following the death of PIP claimant Victoria Smith after it recommended that her benefit claim should be refused.

Ms Smith suffered from agoraphobia and fibromyalgia, and died of a brain haemorrhage in July last year after a worsening of these conditions. The assessment had taken place in March, four months previously.

While the decision over whether someone receives the benefit is made by a DWP official, Capita’s assessment of how a person’s disability affects their life is a crucial part of the process.

The week after Ms Smith’s death, a social security tribunal decided she had been eligible for PIP. Mother Susan Kemlo took legal action against the company for maladministration – that it had made inaccurate statements – and was awarded £10,000.

Capita had announced a decision to go back to court, aiming to have the judgement set aside on the grounds that problems with its internal mail system meant the firm never had a chance to defend itself.

But now the company has now announced that it “considered this exceptional case on an individual basis [and] decided not to contest the original default judgement”.

It has apologised to the family for any additional distress caused.

Have its bosses realised that they could be opening the way for a series of appeals by family members of benefit claimants who have died after a refusal recommended by Capita?

Who knows how many people have lost their lives in this way?

The Department for Work and Pensions certainly doesn’t seem to – it doesn’t keep records of what happens to claimants for longer than two weeks after a benefit refusal.

But we have seen dozens of news stories about the deaths of claimants, months after being denied benefits.

The court’s decision has set a precedent. This Writer certainly hopes the families of the deceased take advantage of it.

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‘We’ve been wronged’ says outsourcing firm after death of claimant whose benefits were wrongly stopped

It must be great to be so rich you think you can buy justice.

Take government-contract outsourcing firm Capita, that (among other things) conducts health assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the main disability benefit, on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The company was ordered to pay £10,000 in damages following the death of PIP claimant Victoria Smith after it recommended that her benefit claim should be refused.

Ms Smith suffered from agoraphobia and fibromyalgia, and died of a brain haemorrhage in July last year after a worsening of these conditions. The assessment had taken place in March, four months previously.

While the decision over whether someone receives the benefit is made by a DWP official, Capita’s assessment of how a person’s disability affects their life is a crucial part of the process.

The week after Ms Smith’s death, a social security tribunal decided she had been eligible for PIP. Mother Susan Kemlo took legal action against the company for maladministration – that it had made inaccurate statements – and was awarded £10,000.

Now the firm is taking the case back to court, hoping the judgement will be set aside.

It says problems with its internal email system mean it never had a chance to defend itself.

And court papers suggest that the firm is bringing this costly court action, not for justice, but to offset the reputational damage it has suffered.

In those papers, the company states: “Capita has been on the receiving end of significant negative press which suggests that it has been held liable following a successful claim by the claimant,” it says.

“This causes significant reputational damage to Capita’s business.”

Never mind the merits of the case; it seems to me that Capita is trying to overturn the judgement because it can afford to.

Put the shoe on the other foot; if Mrs Kemlo had lost, would she have the cash to appeal against the decision?

This is about corporate pride, money, and a bid to buy justice.

Source: Capita seeks to reverse ‘reputational damage’ after death of claimant – BBC News

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Data shows multiple complaints made against scores of PIP assessors

This information is worth having – not necessarily for what it says in its own right – but certainly because of how it could reflect on the current PIP reassessment.

It seems to me that reassessors would do well to check the identities of the Atos/Capita staffers who carried out the original assessments.

It would be useful to see if particular assessors were responsible for more people being denied benefits, and if they were assessors about whom complaints had been made.

Sure – it’s entirely possible that only one per cent of assessments have attracted complaints.

But how many were wrong? And how many caused harm? And were the same people responsible?

Scores of healthcare professionals may have been able to continue carrying out disability benefit assessments despite being the subject of multiple complaints about their behaviour, competence and honesty, confidential new documents have revealed.

The official reports, prepared by outsourcing giants Capita and Atos for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), show that up to 180 personal independence payment (PIP) assessors were the subject of at least four complaints each in three-month periods in 2016.

The documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that 161 assessors working for Atos had more than three complaints made against them in a three-month period.

And 19 Capita assessors were also subjected to at least four complaints in a three-month period in 2016.

Neither Atos nor Capita, nor DWP, will say what action was taken against these assessors and whether they are still carrying out face-to-face assessments of disabled PIP claimants.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “During the period you’ve outlined above, [Atos] and Capita completed a combined total of 945,000 PIP assessments.

“The total number of complaints that assessment providers received was less than one per cent of the total number of completed assessments.

“The PIP assessment providers thoroughly investigate all complaints and take appropriate actions.

“In addition, the PIP assessment providers have a target for customer satisfaction of 90 per cent, which they have consistently met since it was introduced in 2016.”

Source: The PIP Files: Data shows multiple complaints made against scores of Atos assessors


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In the crap-ita: Government contractor responsible for benefit assessments is in deep financial doo-doo

Capita runs London’s congestion charge scheme [Image: Reuters].

Of course we shouldn’t gloat about financial troubles that will affect thousands of people’s jobs.

But Capita is responsible for assessing the fitness for work of thousands upon thousands of benefit claimants, with targets (hidden by the government) to knock a huge proportion of people off the books, so maybe we can be forgiven in this instance.

At mandatory reconsideration, we know that the Tory government set an 80 per cent target for refusal of benefits.

That means thousands of innocent people have suffered for no reason – many of them to their deaths. If the current situation means the assessors who inflicted that suffering get to experience some of it, who can call that anything other than poetic justice?

The company has announced plans to add £700 million to its bank balance. Is this to make up for the now-axed dividend scheme that gave £500 million to shareholders?

What were company execs thinking, when they devised that scheme in the first place? That the government’s magic money tree would keep producing the cash they were funnelling to their rich shareholders?

And was Capita carrying out the same wheeze as Carillion – under-bidding for new government contracts and using the money it received to pay for the old ones?

And what about the firm’s pension fund?

Here‘s Frank Field, chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions committee:

“Another day, another outsourcing firm with massive debt, a huge pension deficit, a KPMG audit and the Big Four popping up at every turn in the company’s chequered history.

“Sadly, Capita goes on the growing list of firms we are investigating to see if their conduct has endangered current and future pensioners’ rights.”

So: First Carillion collapsed. Now both Interserve (remember them?) and Capita are in trouble.

Who’s next? And what will happen to public services while the Tories dither over this crisis?

More than £1bn was wiped off the stock market value of the government contractor Capita on Wednesday, sparking fears of job losses.

Capita, whose major contracts range from collecting the BBC licence fee to electronic tagging of prisoners, saw its share price nearly halve in a day following a grim financial update that reignited concerns over the outsourcing industry and the stability of public services.

Capita’s shares plunged 47.5%, cutting its stock market value by £1.1bn, after new chief executive Jonathan Lewis stunned markets by admitting the company’s finances were in a dire state and announcing drastic measures to repair them.

Lewis, appointed in October last year, downgraded Capita’s profit forecasts and announced plans to raise £700m to shore up its balance sheet. He also axed a dividend that had been worth more than £500m to investors over the past three years.

A cost-cutting programme is expected to result in job losses among Capita’s 67,000 employees, 50,000 of whom are in the UK, while parts of the business will be sold to raise cash.

Source: Capita: almost £1bn wiped off value of UK government contractor | Business | The Guardian


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Sickness and disability benefit assessments: Has anything changed in the last five years?

Unhealthy: Theresa May insists on employing private contractors Atos and Capita to assess benefit claimants’ fitness for work according to criteria that are not fit for purpose, and this has caused huge problems.

The video clip below resurfaced on This Writer’s Facebook page today; apparently I posted the link to it five years ago.

Has anything changed – other than the fact that Atos has been joined by Capita in carrying out the assessments?

Comments from people who have had assessments recently will be illuminating, I think.


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