Atos healthcare has indicated it is planning an early exit from its multi-million pound contract to assess disabled people’s benefits.
Atos have been the subject of nationwide protests last week.
The company — which assesses whether disabled people are “fit for work” — confirmed yesterday that it has been in discussions “for several months” about ending its £500m million contract due to run out in August next year.
It claims the decision to consider pulling out comes as a result of persistent death threats, assaults and abuse against its staff, both in person and online, alleging that it recorded around 163 incidents a month last year.
The DWP refused to comment on its discussions with Atos.
Pat Harrington of Solidarity commented: “It seems that Atos can't deal with the action rightly taken against them. They deserve no sympathy as they have ruined many people's lives."
Relations with the DWP appear to be close to breakdown amid persistent criticism over the poor quality of Atos’s assessments.
Last summer it was announced that the company had been instructed to implement a “quality improvement plan” following an “unacceptable” deterioration in the quality of its written reports.
At the same time the DWP said it would be seeking to bring in additional providers in order to increase capacity and cut waiting times.
Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity said:
"The danger is that the ConDem government will just get another bunch of privateers - Capita or G4S - to take over the contracts. They will be just as bad as Atos and likely get the same reaction from all those who want disabled people to be treated fairly.The NHS needs to run this process."