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Nearly £3 billion to be awarded to private sector contractors to assess ESA, Universal Credit and PIP

22 November 2021

The DWP is to award contracts worth nearly £3 billion over the next 5 years to carry out work capability assessment for ESA and Universal Credit and assessments for PIP.

The DWP says it wishes to  “appoint supply partners with the prerequisite expertise, resources and capacity” to deliver a new DWP claimant Functional Assessment Services (FAS).

The estimated total value of the contracts excluding VAT is £2,796,800,000.

The FAS will be divided into 5 geographical lots:

Lot 1 Northern England and Scotland

Lot 2  Midlands and Wales

Lot 3  South West England

Lot 4  London, South East & East Anglia

Lot 5  Northern Ireland

The DWP selected supplier(s) will have access to a 10 month implementation phase followed by service delivery, expected to commence on 1 August 2023.

The successful supplier in each region will be expected to carry out both PIP assessments and work capability assessments but in Scotland PIP will be replaced by the new adult disability payment, which will be run by the Scottish government.

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:

“For more than a decade there have been continual complaints made against the outsoureced private sector companies undertaking benefit medical assessments.

The new FAS will perpetuate a system that causes fear, stress and anxiety for Disabled people.

Worse, it is a system that has resulting in tragedies, with the DWP admitting to internally investigating 97 deaths of Disabled people since summer 2019 as well as 27 cases of serious harm.

A frequent criticism of the assessment process is that assessors often lack a sufficient understanding of the claimant’s disability or health condition.

There is nothing to indicate that this is to change.

That the assessment system is not fit for purpose is shown by 72% of PIP and 67% of ESA appeals being upheld.

Not only does the assessment criteria for PIP and the work capability assessment need wholesale reform, but the assessment themselves need to  not be run for profit but brought in house.”

For more information, see Functional Assessment Services (FAS) 2023 available from gov.uk