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Work and Pensions written question – answered on 2nd July 2012.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Leader of the Green Party

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information his Department holds on the average length of time for Atos to process applications for employment and support allowance; what targets his Department has set for processing applications; whether sanctions and penalties apply when timescales are not met; what timescale his Department sets for Atos to complete an application when his Department instructs Atos to expedite an application; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Atos Healthcare are not contracted to process applications for ESA. DWP will send a referral to Atos Healthcare as part of a customer's claim for ESA and they complete the work capability assessment process.

The contracted service level is to clear medical assessments within an actual average clearance target (AACT) of 35 working days. There is no formal fast-track process to expedite individual referrals.

Atos Healthcare report on performance against that target on a month-by-month basis.

The Atos Healthcare average clearance (November 2011 to May 2012 ) against a target of 35 days is 62.8 days.

The DWP contractual agreement with Atos Healthcare contains performance service levels (including customer service targets) which also contain financial remedies where there is service level failure, based on pre estimate of loss to the Department. The contractual performance of Atos Healthcare is monitored closely by DWP.

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