Atos and Capita preferred bidders for PIP assessments

Personal independence payment approach to replace disability living allowance likely to require revamp of IT systems

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has awarded contracts to Atos and Capita to provide Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments to replace the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Atos has been awarded two of the three lots, for Scotland, north east and north west England, as well as London and southern England, with Capita gaining the other contract covering Wales and central England.

A further lot has still to be confirmed through the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency. The total value of the Atos and Capita contracts is estimated to be £540m over five years, with Atos’ share about £400m and Capita’s £140m. The overall cost of the scheme is some £700m, which is likely to include the cost of any refinement to IT systems to deliver and process the assessments and signpost other relevant benefits for claimants.

PIP is part of the government’s welfare reform agenda and will replace DLA for people aged between 16 to 64 from April 2013. The government said that the new benefit will better reflect today’s understanding of disability which has changed a lot in the two decades since the DLA was introduced.

The core feature of the PIP will be a new assessment of individual needs by a trained health professional, rather than claimants self-assessing themselves though a claim form.

The PIP is likely to require the development of existing IT systems or the adoption of ones currently in use, because the current DWP systems are unlikely to match the new PIP approach. One option, given that the DWP will prefer not to build new systems and that Atos has won the bulk of the PIP work, is to use the LiMA (Logic Integrated Medical Assessment) software already being used by Atos medical staff to carry out assessments on behalf of the department.

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