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Two investigative documentaries about Atos and the work capability assessment (WCA) are broadcast on the same night, showing evidence of target driven assessment culture.

What: Channel 4’s Dispatches and BBC’s Panorama both raise serious concerns about the processes and standards that have been adopted by Atos when carrying out WCAs. The Panorama interviews several disabled people who had been found “fit for work” following WCAs carried out by Atos, despite serious health conditions. Among those interviewed are the family of a man with a heart condition who was found fit for work, successfully appealed against that decision, but was then called in for another assessment. On learning he had been found fit for work a second time, he had decided Atos must be right and had vacuumed his car, before collapsing and dying minutes later. The Dispatches programme follows a GP as he trains to become an assessor for Atos. His Atos trainer is shown admitting the WCA is “toxic” and “very, very tough”, before warning the GP that any assessor who allows too many disabled people to join the ESA support group will be told this rate is “too high”.
One trainer says that “as long as you’ve got one finger, and you can press a button” a claimant will be found fit for work.

Why significant: Throughout the last decade, no-one has produced written proof of targets or bonuses for assessors to find ESA claimants fit for work, but the Dispatches documentary provides some of the strongest evidence to show how much pressure assessors are placed under.


'Dispatches', Channel 4, 2012
'Atos assessors told to keep disability benefit approvals low, film suggests', Gentleman,2012
'Violent bureaucracy: a critical analysis of the British public employment service', REDMAN and FLETCHER,
'Disabled or Faking It?', BBC, 2012
'MPs suggest minister ignored ‘fitness for work’ re-test concerns', Disability News Service, 2012