November 2014 – Sickness Provisions in the Spotlight
The DWP has confirmed that US firm Maximus has been awarded a three year contract to deliver health related assessments including work capability assessments (WCAs), replacing the current provide Atos some time in 2015.
Maximus specialises in delivering health and employment services for governments across the world, is already a 'key' Work Programme provider and was recently awarded the contract to deliver the new Fit for Work service.
Most of the Atos employees currently employed are due to transfer to Maximus, although the DWP also claim that Maximus will increase the number of specialists who conduct assessments, including experts in mental health.
Fit for Work will start later this year to provide an occupational health assessment and health and work advice to employees, employers and GPs to help people return to or stay in work after an illness.
People on sick leave will be helped to return to work by being provided with an occupational health assessment when they have been, or are expected to be, off work for 4 weeks. After the assessment they will receive a return-to-work plan with recommendations to help them get back to their job more quickly. General health and work advice will be available through a website and phone line.
In another move to limit welfare spending on sickness, the BBC claims that Ministers are considering cutting the work-related activity component of employment and support allowance (ESA) to just 50p.
Internal documents suggest that ministers are considering giving new claimants of ESA, who are placed in the work-related activity group, the basic allowance - equivalent to jobseeker's allowance (JSA) - plus an additional amount of just 50p instead of the current work-related activity component of £28.75.
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