£700K spent on Derry Atos appeals

Appeals against medical assessment company Atos in Derry have cost the taxpayer more than £700,000.

Earlier this week the ‘Journal’ revealed that in Derry almost 900 ill or disabled people in Derry have been wrongly told they were fit to work by medical assessment company Atos since mid 2011 - 42% of a total of 2013 appeals were successful.

Sinn Fein councillor Colly Kelly said the figures were “staggering” and said that in 2012 it was revealed in the Assembly that each appeal costs the taxpayer £350 - that means since 2011 a total of £704,550 of public money has been spent on tribunals in the city.

“The evidence we are getting from our constituency offices in Derry, welfare rights workers, charities for the disabled is that the new Work Capability Assessment is simply not working,” he said.

“Sinn Féin has warned from the outset about the problems the introduction of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) would create for people in Derry on Employment and Support Allowance and Incapacity Benefit.

“We highlighted fears over sick and disabled people with long term debilitating illness having to be reassessed and the impact that would have on them, the financial cost of administrating this new benefit and the probability of high rates of appeals.”

Mr Kelly said it was important to “acknowledge the excellent work carried out by advice workers across the city who represent people going through the appeals system.”