At the start of June I wrote to the National Audit Office about the DWP-Atos contract. Here's what they said in response to my questions:
- Atos has 35 days to make a recommendation after being asked to do so by the DWP. In this period of time they are required to furnish the DWP with a report, either after Scrutiny alone or after a face-to-face assessment.
- Despite an "open book" accounting arrangement with Atos, the DWP will not say how much Atos makes in net profit from this contract each year because it is supposedly commercially sensitive, though the DWP does know the figure, as does the Public Accounts Committee.
- Atos is paid a certain amount by the DWP each year regardless of how many WCAs are actually carried out, to cover the fixed costs Atos incurs in delivering the service. Atos then receives further money for actually doing the assessments: the more assessments are performed the more money Atos gets.
- Atos is paid less for a decision to put the claimant in the Support Group at the Scrutiny stage than they would be paid if they called the claimant forward for a face-to-face assessment and then put them in the Support Group (or made an alternative recommendation based on the findings at the face-to-face assessment).