How many more examples are needed before the mainstream media starts to question the government`s propaganda about privatisation being preferable to public ownership? How refreshing it would be to see a debate on the subject on a TV channel at prime-time, or on one of R4`s political programmes, or even given a full page analysis in one of the popular newspapers. At least we can rely on the Star to give us the facts (Morning Star, 08/01/16).
The National Audit Office (NAO) has reported the "loss of hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers` money" because of the government`s inabilty to manage health and disability assessments through its outsourced privatised companies. Each employment and support allowance test now costs £190, rather than £115, since Atos pulled out of its contract, and there are thousands of benefit claimants having to wait over six months for their test, during which time they are denied full payment.
The NAO also found problems with the American firm which has replaced Atos; Maximus has the contract now, but only half of all the doctors and nurses carrying out the assessments completed their training! Staff costs have risen from £26000 in 2014 to £44000 last year. Even the government`s own quality assessment threshold is not being met.
The government department must be held responsible for this shambles.
Now, not only can it be seen that such cruel attempts to reduce the benefits bill is morally wrong, not that this would bother the Tories, it is even economically misguided as well! Handing over £1.6bn in the next three years to private companies to carry out tests which will save less than £1bn should even strike a chord with our chancellor. Mind you, he was the one who failed to answer a child`s question about eight times seven!