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Pledge to clear benefit backlog
A backlog of new incapacity benefit claims has occurred because of changes to the way cases are assessed, it has been stated
The Government has pledged to clear a backlog of cases involving claims for incapacity benefit payments after admitting that new claims had fallen behind.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the backlog was temporary and would be cleared by the French firm dealing with the cases.
The backlog has been put down to the transitional impact of changes being made to the medical assessment, recommended by the independent Harrington Review.
Mr Grayling said: "On capacity issues, as we stand here today, the incapacity benefit reassessment is on time. New claims for Employment and Support Allowance have fallen a bit behind, mostly because of the introduction of the personalised statement following Professor (Malcolm) Harrington's report.
"We discovered in the first few weeks that it took healthcare professionals much longer to complete the statement than expected, so the number of completed assessments dropped.
"That has changed. They have caught up again, and we are chasing through to clear the backlog, as we are doing with the appeals backlog that we inherited. This is temporary. The backlog will be cleared."
A spokesman for Atos Healthcare, which is carrying out the assessments, said: "Atos Healthcare has implemented all the recommendations from the first Harrington Review on time and in full and is now working with the Department for Work and Pensions to implement the recommendations from the second Harrington Review.
"Atos Healthcare is fully staffed and its team of fully-trained doctors, nurses and physiotherapists are committed to a high level of service and ensuring that the experience of those who are called for the Work Capability Assessment is as comfortable as possible."
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