GLENROTHES’ MP has called on a government department and the controversial firm it uses to carry out work capability assessments on people claiming employment and support allowance, to “get their act together.’’
Lindsay Roy hit out after a constituent encountered a host of problems when he tried to get a replacement medical questionnaire sent out by Atos Healthcare, which is assessing claimants on behalf of the department of work and pensions.
The 34-year old man, who doesn’t want to be identified, thought he had nothing else to do but telephone Atos when the original questionnaire arrived damaged - but he couldn’t have been more wrong.
He explained, ‘’The questionnaire arrived damp and the envelope I was to return it had become sealed as a result.
‘’It took me ages to get through to Atos, and when I did they informed me that they didn’t have any forms and referred me to the DWP.
‘’I duly contacted them – it took several calls on different numbers and lengthy waits on automated queuing systems – only to be told to that I should go to my local Job Centre Plus in Glenrothes to collect a form.
‘’But when I did, an assistant said they didn’t have the questionnaire!
‘’That’s when I called Lindsay Roy’s office and even they had problems before they were able to help me.
‘’The whole thing is a disgrace, and what makes it even worse is that if you are late for an appointment regarding ESA, your benefit gets stopped.’’
Mr Roy, who has been a persistent critic of the new system since it was introduced last year, said: “’This was a nightmare for my constituent and little better for a member of my team who also experienced a run-around before eventually persuading someone at the Job Centre Plus in Glasgow to send out a replacement questionnaire.
‘’The DWP and Atos really need to get their act together and make it much easier for people to access information and help.
“You could be forgiven for thinking it was a deliberate policy aimed at putting claimants off.
‘’I have written to the secretary of state for works and pensions, Ian Duncan Smith, and all the agencies involved in this fiasco seeking information about training and staffing levels.
‘’What should have been a simple request became a stressful experience for my constituent, costing him time and money.
“I want to ensure that no-one else has to endure such problems in future.’’