The NHS could take over controversial Work Capability Assessments when disgraced private firm Atos stop performing the hated tests next year, a Liberal Democrat MP has suggested.
MP David Laws admitted that Atos ‘fit-for-work’ tests had been “unacceptable” and criticised the way sick and disabled people had been treated by the private firm.
“We have big concerns about the way the assessments have been carried out”, he said. Adding that replacing Atos with another private contractor may not be the right solution.
“We want to test the option of bringing these [tests] back in-house, as well as using private sector providers”, he said.
He added: “We’re willing to look at that, if that’s what it takes to get this right”.
Mr Law’s proposal puts the Liberal Democrats at odds with their coalition allies, who remain adamant that the private sector should be solely responsible for carrying out the assessments.
If accepted by the party, Mr Law’s proposal could make it into the Liberal Democrats 2015 general election manifesto.
The Liberal Democrat’s party manifesto chief slammed Atos for leaving disabled people “in a state of uncertainty and on very low-income for totally unacceptable periods of time”.
He also warned of the possibility of future tax rises. “Without [tax rises] key public services such as education, the NHS and the police would be at risk of an unacceptable deterioration – or welfare cuts would have to be so severe that millions of people would be forced into poverty”, he said.
Mr Law’s suggestion will be seen as ‘too little’ by many people: a sign of desperation from a party facing near disaster in the next general election.
Disabled people will remember how the Liberal Democrats have repeatedly sided with the Conservatives on benefit cuts and other welfare issues, including the Work Capability Assessment.
For the many who have tragically lost their lives after being wrongly found ‘fit for work’, Mr Law’s proposal will most definitely be ‘too late’.
Find out more: Daily Mirror